River Riders battle past Doughboys for Opening Day victory

Published 10:31 pm Friday, June 3, 2022

JOHNSON CITY–The Elizabethton River Riders (1-0) earned a hard-fought win Thursday night on the road against the Johnson City Doughboys (0-1) by a final score of 11-9. Catcher Owen Carapellotti was one of many offensive standouts for E-Town, going 1-for-3 with a home run, two runs batted in, and three runs scored.

For the River Riders, it marks their second straight Opening Day victory, defeating Greeneville 5-2 to begin the 2021 season. Meanwhile, it is the second straight season-opening loss for Johnson City, as they lost 7-6 to Bristol to start last season.

The scoring began early for the Doughboys, as shortstop Matt Miceli, first baseman Michael Moss, and right fielder Jared Johnson all were plated in the first inning. However, Elizabethton starter Alex Brewer was able to limit the damage to just three in the first. Johnson City led 3-0 after one.

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In the third inning, the River Riders would begin to battle back. With two outs in the inning, first baseman Alex McCoy would double home third baseman Jonathan “Pepe” Soto and Carapellotti. This brought the deficit to just one, 3-2 going into the bottom of the third.

The Doughboys would get one of the runs back in the bottom half, as left fielder Logan Hugo would bring home designated hitter Donovan Hill with a double, extending the JC lead to 4-2.

Elizabethton would see the biggest turning point in the game go their way in the top of the fifth. After a lead-off walk by Soto, Carapellotti deposited a fastball well over the tall right field wall, tying the game at four.

Later in the same inning, center fielder Zach Freeman brought home right fielder Avery Owusu-Asiedu with a single, giving the River Riders their first lead of the night, 5-4. Carapellotti believes his big home run came from a simple approach at the plate.

“My approach is to take singles up the middle,” Carapellotti said. “Single swings will be home run results, and it showed today. I didn’t miss that one, for sure.”

The game would continue to be a rock fight as the game moved along. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Johnson City left fielder Isaiah Frost would reach on a walk, and would eventually come around to score on a Moss ground ball to first, tying the game again, this time a 5-5.

The top of the seventh would see the River Riders bring eight hitters to the plate. After a strikeout to start the inning, designated hitter Gilbert Saunders and second baseman Ty Peters would walk, then Freeman would be hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Shortstop Peyton Basler would also be hit by a pitch to bring home a run, as pinch runner Austin Roccaforte touched home to give Elizabethton a 6-5 lead. Left fielder Isaac Williams would then hit a bloop single into right-center to extend the lead to 7-5.

The River Riders would add on in the top of the eighth. Owusu-Asiedu scored McCoy on a double before scoring himself on a fielder’s choice from Freeman, giving Elizabethton a 9-5 lead with six defensive outs to record.

In the bottom half of the inning, Harris Celata and Greg Bello would start the inning with walks before coming around to score, making the game 9-7 heading into the final frame.

Elizabethton’s top half of the inning saw Carapellotti reach on a hit by pitch and McCoy reach on a walk to begin the frame. Carapellotti would score on a sacrifice fly to center field hit by Roccaforte, and McCoy would score on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 11-7.

Johnson City would not go quietly into the night, however, as Hugo and catcher Jaden Melendez would reach to start the bottom of the ninth, with Melendez’s double scoring Hugo. Frost would trade places with Melendez, cutting the lead to 11-9, but that was as close as the Doughboys would get.

The River Riders will play the Doughboys again Friday night in Johnson City. First pitch from TVA Credit Union Ballpark is set for 7:00 p.m.

River Riders 11 9 2
Doughboys 9 12 0
W: Carter Lovasz (1-0)
L: Jeremiah Lebron (0-1)