Fifth inning grand slam lifts River Riders past Doughboys

Published 10:06 am Sunday, July 17, 2022

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By: Andrew Smith

The Elizabethton River Riders (18-19) took game two of three against the Johnson City Doughboys (19-19) on Saturday night by a final score of 7-3. Elizabethton third baseman Harrison Rodgers went 1-for-3 with a walk and a grand slam.

The win pulled the River Riders back within half a game of Johnson City in the Appy League West standings. It also allowed E-Town to move a game closer to the first-place Kingsport Axmen. Rodgers said that each win becomes more amplified as the season hits the homestretch with the standings coming into clearer view.

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“Here in the homestretch of the season, every win counts, just as it has all season,” Rodgers said. “It means a little more now when you see the picture of the standings coming into play, and really everything is at stake.”

The game was a pitchers’ duel in the early going, as starters Ethan Shaub for Johnson City and Jackson Holmes for Elizabethton traded zeros in the run column for the first three frames. However, the Doughboys were able to strike first in the top of the fourth, as right fielder Logan Hugo hit a single to bring home shortstop Ashton King, making the game 1-0.

Elizabethton got two runs in their half of the fourth inning. With one out in the inning, first baseman Brennan Orf doubled to score Rodgers from first base. Orf scored in the inning as well, when, after stealing third, the throw from catcher Emilio Morales went into left, allowing Orf to come home. After the inning, it was 2-1 Elizabethton.

The contest’s big blow came in the bottom of the fifth, where after two walks and a hit by pitch, Rodgers came up to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs. He worked the count to 2-0 before unloading on a fastball, sending it well over the right field fence. Rodgers said that he thought he would see a fastball early in the count.

“It was fresh off of a new pitcher,” Rodgers said. “So I got to watch him warm up, and got to see all of his pitches. I had a pretty good hunch that he was going to be coming at me with a fastball just trying to get ahead, and especially once he went down, I had a pretty good feeling, and just reacted from there on out.”

The River Riders added one more run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Right fielder Avery Owusu-Asiedu came home from third base on a wild pitch by reliever Brogan Beckner, extending the lead to 7-1.

Johnson City added two more runs in the top of the eighth, when Hugo hit a single to bring home King and left fielder Jared Johnson, making the game 7-3, where it would stay for the rest of the night.

The two teams will have a quick turnaround, as game three of the series is set for 2:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.

Final                   R      H      E      LOB

Doughboys        3       5       1       8

River Riders      7       6       2      7


W: Jackson Holmes (4-1)

L: Ethan Shaub (0-1)