Walks plague River Riders in series-opening loss to Axmen

Published 8:35 am Monday, June 20, 2022

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By: Andrew Smith
The Elizabethton River Riders (8-7) walked 16 hitters on Friday night as they fell by a score of 15-7 to the Kingsport Axmen (12-3). First baseman Jake Perry went 1-for-2 with four walks, two runs scored and two RBI.
The loss marked the fifth in a row for the River Riders, with their last win coming on June 11 at the Bristol State Liners. It also forced them to four games back of the first-place Axmen, after being once tied with them for the division lead.
E-Town got the scoring started in the bottom of the second inning. Third baseman Harrison Rodgers led off the frame with a double to right field. He would eventually come around to score on a groundout by catcher Cayden Phillips. After two, it was 1-0, River Riders.
They would add on in the third inning. The first three batters of the inning would reach to load the bases with none out. Then, right fielder Avery Owusu-Asiedu hit a sacrifice fly to right to bring home center fielder Austin Roccaforte. Left fielder Brendan Jones came home on a fielder’s choice hit by designated hitter Alex McCoy. Shortstop Peyton Basler also scored in the frame, coming home on a single by Phillips. It was 4-0 after three.
The River Riders added two more in the bottom of the fourth. Second baseman Marcus Sanders led off with a double, and would score on a single by Jones. Jones would score himself, when Basler singled after a stolen base and wild pitch.
However, the complexion of the game would flip in the top of the sixth. The Axmen would send 13 batters to the plate, with seven scoring on just three hits. There were seven walks and a hit by pitch also issued by Elizabethton in the frame. The game was tied 6-6 after a two-run single by left fielder Nate Anderson. Another run would score afterward, giving the Axmen a 7-6 lead after five and a half.
The River Riders would tie the game back up in the bottom half of the sixth. Sanders drew a lead-off walk and came home on a single by Owusu-Asiedu. It was 7-7 through six full innings of play.
Kingsport would take the lead in the top of the ninth, and did so in a huge manner, once again sending 13 hitters to the plate in the frame. In the ninth, they scored eight runs on just a single hit and one E-Town error. Five walks and two hit by pitches were the biggest help to the Axmen offense in the inning.
The Axmen led 15-7 after the top of the ninth, and it would stay that way as the River Riders could not get a late rally. The two squads will battle again on Saturday night in game two of a three-game series. First pitch from Northeast Community Credit Union Ballpark is set for 7 p.m.
Final R H E
Axmen 15 7 1
River Riders 7 6 1
W: Sabo (1-0)
L: Loeser (1-1)

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