Cyclones defeat Pioneers in opening game of District tourney

Published 12:36 pm Friday, May 3, 2024

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Rhett Slagle is accustomed to using his arm to lead his team to scintillate victories, whether on the gridiron as the Cyclone quarterback or on the diamond as a pitcher for the Cyclone baseball team.

On Thursday evening at Northeast Community Credit Union Ballpark, Slagle used a crisp fastball and some unhittable breaking pitches to lead the Elizabethton Cyclones to a thrilling 3-2 win over Crockett in the opening game of the 2024 District baseball tournament throwing a complete game.

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The first four and a half innings of the contest featured a pitcher’s duel between Slagle and Crockett southpaw Nate Walters as the two hurlers were dishing out some solid pitches backed up by several stellar defensive plays from their defense including a perfectly executed 6-4-3 double play by the Cyclones.

Elizabethton finally got something started in the bottom half of the fifth inning as outfielder Logan Campbell roped a gapper to right center field that allowed the speedy Campbell to reach second base standing up.

Jeriah Griffin advanced Campbell to third on a fielder’s choice bunt that couldn’t be fielded cleanly by Walters putting runners on the corners for the Cyclones.

Crockett went to the bullpen and called in right-handed pitcher Conner Hendrix to replace Walters. Hendrix got the first out of the inning with a strikeout of Jack Blevins as Griffin stole second during the at-bat.

A wild pitch from Hendrix allowed Campbell to race home unabated and the Cyclones led 1-0 as Griffin took third on the same play.

Bryson Rowland plated Griffin with a sacrifice fly to left field making it 2-0 Cyclones.

With two outs, JD Hooks kept things rolling for EHS as the catcher laced a single and proceeded to steal second base. Steven Meadows collected Hooks when he ripped a double to the center field wall splitting the gap between center and right.

The Pioneers would make things interesting in the top of the sixth as they slithered to within one run of the Cyclones.

Marcus Greenway singled to open the inning and scored on a double by teammate Kaiden Easterling to narrow the lead to 3-1.

A single off the bat of Jake Fox allowed Easterling to move to third base with runners at the corners for Crockett.

A sacrifice fly from Ayden Mullikin scored Easterling and the Cyclones were left clinging to the one run advantage, 3-2.

With one last rally left in them, the Pioneers quickly were staring at two outs in the top of the seventh inning as Slagle fanned the first two Crockett batters.

However, a single from Ronnie Hall and a Greenway trip to first base after being plunked by a Slagle offering put the tying run on second base.

Slagle slammed the door shut when he whiffed Easterling to bring the game to an end.