River Riders earn a walk-off win against Burlington
BY ANDREW SMITH
On a beautiful Thursday night at Northeast Community Credit Union Ballpark, the Elizabethton River Riders (20-18) grinded their way to a 4-3 win over the Burlington Sock Puppets (16-22-2).
The River Riders were without manager Kevin Riggs, who was suspended two games after his second ejection of the season Wednesday night at Bluefield, as well as All-Star infielder Marcus Brown, who was out for precautionary reasons following a collision in the same game at Bluefield.
Both starters took some time to get settled into the game.
River Riders All-Star Drew Gillespie allowed both of the first two Sock Puppet hitters to reach via a single, before working out of trouble without allowing a run.
Burlington starter Luke Folsom gave up a base hit and a walk in his first frame of work but matched Gillespie’s zero in the run column.
The Sock Puppets scored the first run of the evening in the second. After getting runners at first and third with one out, Burlington attempted a double steal. Nick Winkelmeyer took off for second and was thrown out, however, on the throw, Marshall Raper stole home to make the game 1-0.
Elizabethton responded quickly, as in the bottom of the second, Garrison Berkley led off with a single, and was later driven in from third on a sacrifice fly to center field by John Montes.
His run tied it at one heading into the third.
The tie would not last long, as the Sock Puppets would re-take the lead in the top of the third. Isaiah Adams hit a two-out single on the first pitch of the at-bat, and All-Star outfielder Benji Gilbert drove him in with a double to give Burlington a 2-1 lead.
That score would hold throughout the middle innings.
Thursday night’s contest turned into a pitcher’s duel after the Sock Puppets took a 2-1 lead. Burlington could thank Folsom for that, as beginning in the top of the second, he would retire the next thirteen River Rider batters he would see, before being relieved after the completion of the sixth inning.
The River Rider hitters were glad to see Folsom stay in the dugout in the bottom of the seventh, as All-Star Sam Thompson was able to come across to score thanks to a Sock Puppet error to tie the game at two heading into the eighth.
Burlington grabbed the lead again in the eighth where they were able to take advantage of a lead-off double by Raper with an RBI single by Mason Speaker.
However, after a walk by Winkelmeyer, River Riders reliever Jace Miner struck out the next three he would see to hold the game at 3-2 Sock Puppets.
Going into the ninth inning, Burlington turned to Trevor Nanney to get his first save of the season.
Unfortunately for Nanney, the River Riders had other plans. All-Star infielder Robin Fernandez would start the inning with a double, before being pinch-run for by Logan Sanders.
Berkley then hit a bloop single into left-center to put runners at the corners for Thompson, who hit a ringing double off of the scoreboard in right-center.
Sanders scored easily to tie the game, then Berkley tried his luck from first. Although it was a close play, the Sock Puppet relay was not in time to get Berkley, and the River Riders won the game 4-3.
The two met again Friday night at Northeast Community Credit Union Ballpark.
Burlington Sock Puppets 3 12 1
Elizabethton River Riders 4 7 1
W: Casey Keller (3-0)
L: Trevor Nanney (0-2)