Cyclones claim District 1-3A title with win over Crockett

Published 4:49 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2024

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The two teams playing for the District 1-3A baseball crown probably weren’t expected to be in the main spotlight on Monday at Northeast Community Credit Union Ballpark, but after Elizabethton and Crockett both knocked off the state’s number one team in Tennessee High, that’s exactly what happened.

Starting to peak at the right time, the Cyclones took what the Pioneers were willing to give and exploited three errors into timely runs to get a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in taking the district title in a 6-3 victory.

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Elizabethton wasted little time denting the scoreboard. After setting the Pioneers down in the top of the first inning with one out, JD Hooks reached on an error.

Steven “Bugs” Meadows laced a single to left field with Hooks taking second on the hit. A double steal set runners up at second and third base.

A balk was called on Pioneer starting pitcher AJ Ford which allowed Hooks to come home on the call before Crockett escaped without any further damage.

Behind good pitching from starting pitcher Jackson Buckles and good defense, the Cyclones got out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the second before putting together a healthy rally in the bottom of the frame that resulted in four runs.

Outfielder Brayden Buckles led things off with a walk for the Cyclones and advanced to second when an attempted sacrifice bunt off the bat of Logan Campbell resulted in an error by the Pioneers second baseman with both runners safe.

Lightning struck twice as the next batter, Jeriah Griffin, also attempted to sac bunt the runners up a bag but the ball couldn’t be fielded cleanly by Ford filling the bags full of Cyclones.

Designated hitter Jack Blevins continued to swing a hot bat as Blevins sent a single to right field scoring Buckles from third. After Ford enticed a swinging strikeout from Bryson Rowland, Cyclone catcher Hooks stepped to the dish and didn’t disappoint ripping a double down the third base line scoring both Campbell and Griffin.

Blevins came around to score after a Meadows fly ball was dropped by the Pioneers center fielder as the Cyclones all of a sudden had a 5-0 lead.

The Pioneers plated a run in the top of the third and two in the top of the fourth to slice the Cyclone lead to 5-3, but the Cyclones got some insurance in their half of the fourth.

Rowland slapped a double to lead things off. Rowland then caught the Pioneer battery off guard and swiped third base putting a runner in scoring position.

Meadows capitalized when the second baseman lofted a fly ball deep enough to center field to allow Rowland to tag to scamper home from third base with the sac fly by Meadows.

From there, it was pitching and defense as the Cyclones held on to claim the title.

Jackson Buckles tossed 5.2 innings of seven hit baseball allowing three runs with six K’s and three walks over that work. Two runs were earned.

Justin Whitehead came in to finish off the game for Coach Ryan Presnell’s squad allowing no runs on no hits with three strikeouts and a walk to earn the save.

Crockett outhit the Cyclones seven to six, but their five errors were costly. Elizabethton had only one error in the game.

Hooks accounted for two hits in the contest while Rowland, Meadows, Griffin, and Blevins had the other solo hits.

Ford took the loss on the hill for the Pioneers pitching five innings allowing all six of the Cyclone runs. The lefty gave up five hits with six K’s and three walks. He allowed one earned run.

Both teams advance to regional play on Friday at Tusculum University as the Cyclones will play in game one against the District 2 number two seed while Crockett will face the one-seed from District 2 immediately following.