One run away… Elizabethton season ended by Nolensville in gutsy effort, 4-3

Published 7:38 am Friday, May 24, 2019

MURFREESBORO— There is a saying that all good things must come to an end, but when it comes to sports the end of the journey sometimes ends in gut-wrenching fashion.

The Elizabethton Cyclones saw a phenomenal 2019 season come to a screeching halt on David Price Field at Blackman High School as Nolensville, the team that sent the Cyclones to the loser’s bracket, took advantage of a safety squeeze to go up three runs and then held off ‘Betsy in a 4-3 final.

Jumping on top early

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Just like in all their games of late, the Cyclones managed to jump out to a 1-0 advantage in the top of the first inning when lead-off batter Karson Dillard drew a walk.

The Knights got two quick outs with Dillard taking second on a groundout by Jaden Anderson. Bryson Rollins worked a two-out walk putting Cyclones on first and second.

Matthew Dailey followed up by reaching on an error to load the bases with Elizabethton runners.

On a 1-2 pitch to Lawson Wagner, the ball squirted pass the Nolensville catcher allowing Dillard to score from third base.

Nolensville answers quickly

The Knights wasted little time in erasing the run and taking a two-run lead after one inning of play, 3-1.

Utilizing two singles, a hit batsman, and an error the Knights seized control putting the Cyclones in an early hole in a pressure-packed setting.

Two differences that proved costly

There were two things that the Knights were doing that ultimately led to their victory and that was taking advantage of what Elizabethton gave them in way of walks and playing short ball to perfection forcing the Cyclones to make some tough plays.

None was more costly than in the fourth inning when Nolensville got a walk from Ethan Syling to start things off. Bryan Chuck followed the walk up with a single to put runners at first and second base.

Tyler Hummel sacrificed the runners up a base with a sacrifice bunt moving an all-important run into scoring position.

Nolensville got what turned out to be the game-winning run when Aidan Young put down a safety squeeze that allowed Syling to score making it a 4-1 game.

The Cyclones just don’t quit

With their backs against the wall yet again in a season filled with varying levels of adversity, the Cyclones scratched and clawed their way back into the contest in the top of the fifth inning.

Left fielder Nico Ashley continued with a hot bat ripping a pitch into right field for a single. Dillard followed by tearing the cover off the ball on a screaming double to the left field corner with Ashley scooting all the way around the bags from first to score making it a 4-2 game.

Dillard advanced to third on a ground out by Anderson and came home on a ball hit high into left field by Evan Carter to pull the Cyclones within one at 4-3.

Unfortunately for ‘Betsy, they managed only a single by Jacob Mullins in the sixth and Anderson in the seventh without building any further threats.

Was it a dropped ball?

Again, another controversial play in what has been a season filled with them for Elizabethton came in the top of the seventh when a ball hit in the air by Carter with two outs appeared to be dropped by the right fielder but was rang up as an out by the umpire at first who made no effort to go out to get a closer look at the play.

Even the Nolensville players reacted in a way that led to the thought that the ball hit the turf. The umpire who made the call was leaving the field and was asked to come back and confirm the out by Cyclone head coach Ryan Presnell.

The final outcome was an out but not without a little uncertainty on both teams.

Wagner gives a valiant effort

It may not have exactly the way Lawson Wagner and the Cyclone coaching staff would have wanted the pitching to work out, but being the gamesman he is, Wagner answered the call digging down deep to pitch the complete game.

Wagner pitched six innings giving up four runs on five hits while walking one and striking out two to bring his Cyclone career to an end.

Wagner will suit up for Roane St. College next season.

A look at the numbers

The Cyclones collected six hits in the game as Dillard, Anderson, Rollins, Wagner, Mullins, and Ashley getting one hit apiece. The Cyclones worked two walks in the game and struck out twice.

A farewell to four great seniors

With the loss, the Cyclone baseball team said goodbye to four seniors who helped the team win over 90 games in their four years of play.

Corey Russell will play both baseball and football at Centre College, Wagner heads to Roane State College for baseball, Matthew Dailey has signed with the United States Marine Corp and Evan Perkins currently is undecided.

The four have not only led on the field of play but in the dugout and in the halls of Elizabethton High School.

Putting a wrap on it

“It was the tough end of the draw,” Presnell said after the game. “You look back and see some things you could have done different but not much.

“We didn’t necessarily hit the ball the way you need to down here and we know what the formula is down here. We haven’t won one, but we studied what Greeneville did last year very closely and we have looked at past years box scores to see how people made their way.

“We obviously looked at what we did last year and studied and had a good game plan, but when you lose that first game man a lot of planning goes out the window at that point,” continued Presnell.

“It becomes about survival and is just a big task against the caliber of the baseball clubs on this end of the bracket. You are looking to me at the top three to four baseball teams in the state and what’s on the other side of the bracket I haven’t seen. We have been around to know how good Pigeon Forge, Nolensville, and Covington are.

“We will just go back to the drawing board and get on the bus and I guarantee on the way home we will start working again. You always have kids looking at you as a coach and it keeps you centered and responsible and keeps you working without a day off.”