River Riders use early offense to earn series split with WhistlePigs

Published 9:07 am Saturday, June 25, 2022

By: Andrew Smith

The Elizabethton River Riders (10-11) found their way back into the win column on Friday night as they defeated the Princeton WhistlePigs (9-12) by a final score of 9-7. Right fielder Avery Owusu-Asiedu went 3-for-5 on the night with three RBI and a run scored. He also finished just a triple shy of the cycle.

The win salvaged the seven-game homestand for Elizabethton, as they went 2-5 through the stretch. It also broke a losing skid where the squad had lost nine of its previous ten outings, with the lone win coming Tuesday night against Bluefield.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Princeton got the scoring started in the first inning. After a single by shortstop Woody Hadeen and a walk by first baseman Owen Blackledge, third baseman Bronson Rivera hit a single to bring home Hadeen. Before E-Town could bat, it was 1-0 WhistlePigs.

However, the River Riders would quickly respond, as Owusu-Asiedu would hit a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the first into the Elizabethton bullpen in right field. After a full frame, it was tied at 1-1. Owusu-Asiedu credited his pregame work focusing on his approach.

“I’ve been working with coach Andy [Tomberlin],” Owusu-Asiedu said. “Been trying to see the ball deep, get my barrel to the ball, and just being on time, so that’s what worked today.”

E-Town added two more in the bottom of the second. Catcher Connor Price brought home third baseman Brody Green on a single up the middle after Green’s one-out double. Price would score as well when he came home on a single by second baseman Peyton Basler. Through two, Elizabethton led 3-1.

The WhistlePigs got one of those runs back in the top of the third. After a hit by pitch and a single, there were runners on the corners and just one out. River Rider pitcher Trevor Callahan attempted a pick off throw to first, but threw it away, allowing Hadeen to score from third. The lead was cut to 3-2.

In the bottom of the fourth, the River Rider offense would erupt. They would send eight hitters to the plate, with four scoring. Left fielder Issac Williams brought home Price on a single, Williams would score on a sacrifice fly from center fielder Austin Roccaforte, and Owusu-Asiedu brought home Basler and shortstop Harrison Rodgers on a single. After all of the damage, it was 7-2 in favor of Elizabethton. 

The Blue and Yellow were able to get two more insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh. With the bases loaded and two outs, Roccaforte got a two-run single to score first baseman Brennan Orf and Basler. Through seven, Elizabethton led 9-2.

Those insurance runs would be needed, as the WhistlePigs exploded for five runs in the top of the eighth. The big blow in the inning was a grand slam to right field off the bat of center fielder Jesse Robinson. When the dust settled, it was 9-7, and that is where it would stay.

The River Riders will look to start a hot streak and begin a two-game series against the Greeneville Flyboys on Saturday. First pitch from Pioneer Park will be at 7 p.m. The WhistlePigs will travel to Pulaski to start a two-game set against the River Turtles on Saturday. The game will start at 7 p.m.

Final                R   H   E

WhistlePigs    7    7    2

River Riders  9   12    3

W: Jess Miller (1-1)

L: Brett Karalius (1-2)