A look back at Elizabethton River Riders 2022 season
Published 8:19 am Wednesday, August 10, 2022
By Andrew Smith
The 2022 campaign for the Elizabethton River Riders saw plenty of ups and downs before a strong finish propelled the club to a 26-26 record. General manager Maya Mathis said that a big key for this season was increased familiarity with both the league and the club.
“I think now everybody understands the league more, understands the River Riders are here to stay,” Mathis said. “I definitely feel like we could feel that difference in our attendance this year, with that.”
The club did see an increase in attendance on the season, as they average around 917 fans per home game. This is roughly an eight percent increase from the per-game average in the 2021 season.
One reason for the increase, according to Boyd Sports vice president Jeremy Boler, was the new seating areas down each of the foul lines.
“We had the new group sales area, that new area we did to the ballpark, all of the stadium improvements,” Boler said. “I think that definitely was more seating options and a win-win for everybody. You could come out with groups or just [have] folks who wanted to go sit over there.”
On the field for the River Riders, they came out of the gates hot, going 8-2 in their first ten games. This start featured a pair of series sweeps over Johnson City as well as splits with Danville, Greeneville, and Bristol. However, this hot start was quickly cooled off by a six-game losing skid in the middle of June.
E-Town then limped their way into the month of July, carrying an 11-15 mark into their July 1 contest at Greeneville. Throughout the month, they continued to improve as they navigated their way through two rainouts and a COVID cancellation to begin the month 8-4. This would set up a big series at Kingsport to attempt to work their way back into contention for the division. Unfortunately for the Riders, they would be swept in the two-game set to fall back below .500.
After a pair of splits at Pulaski and at home against Burlington, the River Riders entered the All-Star break at 21-23. Despite the losing record, the club sent six players to the All-Star Game in Burlington. These were: infielder Peyton Basler, starting pitcher Jackson Holmes, outfielder Avery Owusu-Asiedu, infielder Harrison Rodgers, starting pitcher Collin Rothermel, and outfielder Issac Williams Jr.
Coming out of the break, Elizabethton faced a longer than expected delay in getting to ramp back up, as four of their next five games were rained out. The only exception was a 4-1 loss at Johnson City on July 30. Heading into August, the club needed to catch fire in order to finish the year back at .500. They did just that, going 5-2 in the month to end the year at 26-26.
While the record was not quite as good as she had hoped, Mathis is still pleased with the on-field outcome of the season.
“I think we had a great staff,” Mathis said. “We had great players that really wanted to be here this season. They were amazing, so I think that always is important too, that the players wanted to be here. Obviously, I wished we would have finished with a better record. But, overall I really enjoyed it. I think we had a great coaching staff, I think we had great guys on the team, and I think they did a great job this season.”
From a statistical perspective, Elizabethton had players littering the Appalachian League leaderboard:
Rodgers was sixth in average (.346), seventh in on-base percentage (.465), sixth in slugging percentage (.538), and fifth in on-base plus slugging (1.003).
Owusu-Asiedu finished second in home runs (10), sixth in runs batted in (35), fourth in slugging percentage (.567), ninth in on-base plus slugging (.965), sixth in doubles (13), first in extra base hits (24), third in total bases (89), and tenth in runs scored (39).
Williams led the league in triples (6).
Infielder Ty Peters finished sixth in walks (32).
Outfielder Brendan Jones was tied for seventh for stolen bases (19).
Holmes was third among qualifying pitchers for earned run average (4.25), tied for fifth in wins (4), first in games started (11), tied for third in complete games (1), tied for second in shutouts (1), first in innings pitch (55.0), third in average against (.269), third in walks and hits per innings pitched (1.45), third in winning percentage (.667).
Reliever Ryan Widmeier finished tied for fifth in games played in for pitchers (17).
The 2022 season was a mixed bag of sorts for the River Riders, but it has allowed for more of a foundation to be built for Elizabethton baseball for years to come. And for Carter County baseball fans, the 2023 season cannot come fast enough.