River Riders take wild game one victory in Kingsport

Published 12:48 am Sunday, July 3, 2022

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By: Andrew Smith

KINGSPORT–The Elizabethton River Riders (13-15) won a wild back-and-forth affair Saturday night against the Kingsport Axmen (20-8) by a final score of 11-8. First baseman Alex McCoy went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and six RBI.

The victory put the River Riders back into sole possession of third place in the West division while allowing them to come within seven games of the first-place Axmen. It also allowed them to keep pace with the second-place Greeneville Flyboys.

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Elizabethton came out of the gates hot, putting five runs on the board in the top of the first. After a walk to start the game for left fielder Brendan Jones, designated hitter Avery Owusu-Asiedu hit a long two-run home run to left to open the scoring. Later in the frame with runners on first and second and one out, McCoy hit a three-run home run to right-center field to extend the River Rider lead to 5-0.

The Axmen got one run back in the bottom half of the first. After a walk in the frame, first baseman Corbin Shaw hit a single to score shortstop Aaron Casillas. After one full inning, it was 5-1 in favor of E-Town.

Kingsport got one run closer in the bottom of the second. Left fielder Kyle Booker singled to lead off the frame before reaching third on an error on a pickoff throw by pitcher Collin Rothermel. Booker would then score on a wild pitch to cut the game to 5-2.

The River Riders extended the lead back out in the top of the third. To start the inning, left fielder Zach Freeman singled and reached second base on a wild pitch. He came around to score on a base hit by McCoy, who eventually scored himself on a passed ball by catcher Logan Poteet. The lead was back to five as E-Town led 7-2.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Axmen started to cut into the deficit. Right fielder Nate Anderson led off with a single before stealing second and reaching third on a throwing error by catcher Cayden Phillips. He scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Casillas, making it 7-3.

The Kingsport offense would erupt in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead. They put up five runs on five hits, with run-scoring hits coming from Poteet, center fielder Kevin Fernandez, Anderson, and third baseman Jake Perry. Heading into the final frame, the Axmen led 8-7.

Elizabethton would storm back in the top of the ninth, however. The inning began with a lead off walk by pinch hitter Brennan Orf, who was immediately taken down for pinch runner Austin Roccaforte. After Jones singled to put runners on the corners, Owusu-Asiedu punched a single into left to tie the game. Then, after a walk and a fielder’s choice, right fielder Zach Freeman hit a sacrifice fly to left to give Elizabethton the lead. McCoy then got another single to plate two more insurance runs, and it was 11-8 through eight and a half.

The Axmen would not go away in the bottom half, though. Down to their last out, Kingsport got a single by second baseman Mayes White to extend the game. After White moved up to second on defensive indifference, Fernandez hit a single back up the middle to cut into the deficit. However, he would be stranded at first, as Anderson struck out to end the game.

The River Riders and the Axmen will play again on Sunday night in game two of their weekend series. First pitch from Hunter Wright Stadium will be at 7 p.m.

Final                 R    H    E    LOB

River Riders    11   12    4    5

Axmen               9   14    0   10


W: Baker Cox (1-1)

L: Gabe Helder (0-1)

S: Ryan Widmeier (1)