River Riders drop season finale in hard fought contest to Axmen

Published 10:33 am Tuesday, August 1, 2023

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By Ron Marvel
Star Correspondent
The 2023 edition of the River Riders may be remembered for a number of things; the character to fight to the last at-bat and the inability to hold onto leads late in games. The final game for the River Riders served as a microcosm of their season. Up 1-0 going into the seventh, they would surrender two runs and although they would get the go-ahead runner on base, they just couldn’t get that base hit they desperately needed.
The River Riders would get things going in their portion of the second inning as Trey Fenderson would get on base with a walk and, as he would do many times this season, quickly pick up a stolen base to add to his season total. Fenderson would then come home off a Xavier Cintron line drive to left; unfortunately for the River Riders, that would be the extent of their damage as Dylan Knowles would fly out to deep left to end the inning stranding two runners. The River Riders would squander another opportunity in the low-scoring game in the fifth as Xavier Cintron would make it to third with only one out, but Peyton Basler would strike out swinging and DJ Dilehay would pop out to short to end the threat. They would get another chance in the sixth with Kerry Herndon Brown stroking a double,  to the left-center gap, padding his .361 batting average, but he would be stranded when back to back to back River Riders would strikeout to end the inning.
River Riders pitcher Baker would be on point for the night for the Elizabethton squad. The Spartanburg Methodist product would go five innings giving up no earned runs and only one hit, allowing the River Riders to hold onto that 1-0 lead going into the seventh. Axmen Cole Swift would pick up a couple of RBIs off a single to left, plating Mike Mancini and Deniel Ortiz, but a nice throw from left fielder Knowles would keep it a one-run game as Axmen shortstop Mayes White would be tagged out at the plate making the new score 2-1 advantage Axmen.
The River Riders would mount one final threat in the bottom of the ninth as Kade Huff and Cintron would reach on fielding errors putting runners at first and second with one out, but Cintron would fly out to left and Knowles would strike out to end the game. Overall, the River Riders would go 2-15 on the night with runners in scoring position. The loss would drop the River Riders to 20-25 on the season. Shortly after the game, the River Riders front office, coaches and players issued a joint statement on their social media page thanking the community and fans for their loyalty, support and encouragement during the 2023 season and looking forward to seeing everyone again in 2024.

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