Axmen take no-hitter into ninth inning against River Riders

Published 8:14 am Thursday, July 14, 2022

By: Andrew Smith

The Kingsport Axmen (25-9) took game one of the two-game series on Wednesday night against the Elizabethton River Riders (16-18) by a final score of 3-1. Starting pitcher Matt Cornelius went six innings, allowing no hits or runs, and only allowed one walk while striking out ten hitters.

The game extended the division lead for the Axmen over the River Riders to nine games in the Appalachian League West. It also allowed the Johnson City Doughboys to move into second place in the standings, a half game above Elizabethton.

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Kingsport got on the board first in the top of the second. The frame began with a leadoff single by center fielder Kyle Booker, who moved up to third on a base hit by third baseman Payton Allen. A sacrifice fly to center field by catcher Henry Hunter brought Booker home and made the game 1-0 in favor of the Axmen.

The top of the fourth saw another run for the Axmen, as Hunter hit a slow ground ball to second base with the bases loaded and one out. With the only play at first base, first baseman Kendall Diggs made it home safely, making the game 2-0.

For the River Riders, they were unable to figure out Cornelius. After a two-out walk by third baseman Harrison Rodgers, the Axmen southpaw retired the next 16 hitters he faced, with the only hard contact coming off of the bat of center fielder Brendan Jones, who lined out to left.

In the bottom of the seventh, reliever Anthony Imhoff ran into some trouble, as he allowed a walk and hit a batter to put two on with two outs. However, he was able to get a strikeout of shortstop Ty Peters to keep the River Riders off of both the run and hit column.

The Axmen got an insurance run in the top of the eighth. After a pair of singles and a stolen base, Kingsport had runners on second and third with no outs. Then Hunter singled to left field. On the play, the runner at third in shortstop Mayes White scored, but the runner from second in Allen was thrown out at the plate, keeping the game at 3-0.

Elizabethton was able to work a pair of walks in the eighth, but nothing more, as they entered the bottom of the ninth in serious danger of being no-hit. However, Rodgers led off the frame with a base hit to right, which began a late rally. Rodgers made it to third on a wild pitch and a passed ball, and scored on a two-out hit by first baseman Alex McCoy to right field. A walk by Peters brought the potential winning run to the plate in pinch hitter Brennan Orf. Orf was able to work a full count before striking out to end the contest.

The River Riders will host the Axmen again on Thursday night. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. from Northeast Community Credit Union Ballpark.


Final                     R      H      E      LOB

Axmen                  3      11      0      11

River Riders         1      2       3       7


W: Matt Cornelius (2-0)

L: Landry Kyle (0-4)

S: Chris Sabo (2)