Celestino delivers E-Twins a championship

Published 11:25 pm Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Centerfielder Gilberto Celestino has been hot of late, but no hit was bigger than the one he delivered on Wednesday night at Joe O’Brien Field. Celestino doubled home Yunior Severino to give the Elizabethton Twins a 2-1 lead in a game they would win over Princeton by that margin to capture the Appalachian League championship for the second season in a row, and 12th overall.

“We have a very good staff here that know how to teach these guys and they were able to showcase their ability,” Twins manager Ray Smith said. “I’m very proud. We were able to promote guys. We sent up 14 guys and got some guys from GCL that helped us. You know, I’m happy for these guys.”

Princeton (2-4) took a 1-0 lead behind righthander Shane Baz and Baz held it for as long as he was in there. Baz went 5.2 innings and ended up being charged with a run, but was dominant with seven strikeouts and two walks as well as four hits.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Rays scored in the third when first baseman Vincent Byrd and left fielder Pedro Diaz singled to open the inning against 18-year-old Prelander Berroa. After an infield popup from Jake Palomaki, designated hitter Osmy Gregorio doubled in Byrd but left two runners in scoring position.

Third baseman Connor Hollis then ripped a shot down the third base line that Twins third baseman Alex Robles caught with a dive to his right. Robles popped right up and fired to first with neither runner advancing.

“I just kind of reacted to it,” Robles said. “It took a little hop so as soon as I caught it I knew I had time to make a good throw. Berroa did a great job giving them just one run and the rest you know how the game went. This is the closest team I have been on and everyone is great friends and has each other’s back. I am so happy at this moment.”

Berroa went five innings giving up one run (earned) on four hits. He struck out four and walked one and Smith said of his performance, “He pitched beyond his age. He is only 18 with a good power arm. And he didn’t back off, and believe me Princeton has a good club with balance and power and pitching. So it was good that Berroa was able to hold them at bay and give our bats a chance to do something.”

The Twins (4-1 playoffs) got even in the fourth when Celestino led off with a single to right and two outs later DeShawn Keirsey, Jr. delivered a run-scoring double down the third base line with Celestino scoring from first.

The next three innings were dominated by pitching as Tyler Palm (1-0) went four scoreless innings giving up just two hits. Palm, a starter called on for long relief in this one was up to the task saying, “I have been there before so they trust me to come out and do the job and I knew I could pull it off. I knew we could pull it off if I looked at it one pitch at a time, and I trust in my team.”

Palm went 2-2 as a starter this season with a 4.06 earned run average with 45 strikeouts against just 11 walks, but certainly came up big in this one.

“One of the reasons we started Berroa was we were thinking about having jitters,” Smith said. “But we felt we could bail him out with Palm. We didn’t want to bring the young kid into a hornets’ nest and we knew Palm could come in that situation.”

The final rally came when Severino was hit by a pitch from reliever Steffon Moore (0-1) who took the loss. Lean Marrero bunted Severino to second and Celestino’s double plated Severino and Palm pitched a one, two, three ninth to clinch it.

E-Twins 2-1

Princeton 001 000 000 – 1 6 0

E-Twins 000 100 01x – 2 5 1

W – Palm (1-0) L – Moore (0-1)