River Riders’ Independence Day comeback falls just short against Axmen

Published 8:21 am Tuesday, July 5, 2022

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By: Andrew Smith

The Kingsport Axmen (21-9) held on for a 10-9 victory over the Elizabethton River Riders (14-16) on Monday night. Shortstop Payton Allen went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBI for Kingsport.

The loss was the first for the River Riders in July, as they had started 3-0 for the month. It also was their tenth loss of the season in front of the home fans at Northeast Community Credit Union Ballpark, dropping them to 6-10 in E-Town.

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Kingsport started the day by putting three runs on the scoreboard in the top of the first. Left fielder Nate Anderson hit the first pitch of the game for a triple to right-center, and came home on an RBI groundout. First baseman Corbin Shaw added an RBI single and designated hitter Kyle Booker hit an RBI groundout to extend the lead to 3-0.

The Axmen got one more in the top of the second, when right fielder Ian Riley hit an RBI single with two outs to plate Allen. Elizabethton would get the run back in the bottom half of the frame on a solo home run by catcher Cayden Phillips. However, the River Riders were unable to add on, as they left the bases loaded. After two innings, it was 4-1 in favor of the Axmen.

The top of the third saw Kingsport add on four runs. Shaw scored on a wild pitch, third baseman Jake Perry scored on a single by center fielder Sam Petersen, and Petersen and catcher Shea McGahan came home on an Allen base hit. The lead had ballooned to 8-1.

The River Riders would start to cut into the deficit in the bottom of the fifth. Three straight singles with two outs would load the bases. Then, Phillips would come back from down two strikes to walk to bring home designated hitter Morgan Colopy and third baseman Ty Peters singled home left fielder Issac Williams. The lead was now 8-3 after five.

Kingsport would extend the lead back out to seven, as they got one run in each of the sixth and seventh innings. The sixth saw Riley hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Allen, and the seventh saw an Allen single to score Booker. Going into the stretch, it was 10-3.

The Riders would make their comeback attempt in the bottom of the eighth. They put up five runs in the frame, as one came home on a bases-loaded walk to shortstop Harrison Rodgers, three were plated on a triple to left by Williams, and one scored on an RBI infield single by first baseman Brennan Orf. E-Town had cut it to 10-8.

Elizabethton had a chance to win it in the bottom of the ninth. After a strikeout to start the inning, the River Riders got a double and a single to put runners on the corners. Then, a two-out walk by Colopy loaded the bases again, before Williams walked to score one. However, Orf would ground out to end the game, leaving the bases loaded, still trailing 10-9.

The Appalachian League has two off days before returning to action on Thursday. The River Riders will play host to the Bristol State Liners when the league returns. First pitch is at 7 p.m. Kingsport will host the Johnson City Doughboys on Thursday. The game will start at 7 p.m. as well.


Final                  R   H   E   LOB

Axmen              10   10   1    9

River Riders      9   18   1    15


W: Ryan Kraft (4-0)

L: Landry Kyle (0-3)