River Riders fall to Bristol in home opener

Published 4:29 pm Sunday, June 9, 2024

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Home opening night was a treat for the over 1,100 spectators at Northeast Community Credit Union ballpark for the first three innings. Things took a sideways turn in the fourth, fifth and sixth frames as the Bristol State Liners (3-0) plated 12 runs over those innings to take a 13-5 win over Elizabethton (0-3).

“The one thing I don’t want to say is ‘it’s early’”, River Riders manager Jeremy Owens said. “I think a lot of the guys haven’t been playing and they have to get their game underneath them a little bit. We have some work to do.”

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Manning West started on the bump for the River Riders and was dominant in the first three innings striking out the side in the second inning and collecting eight strikeouts in four innings. In the fourth, a pair of walks began undoing West as Dylan Mass singled to open the stanza.

West then issued free passes to Dylan Schaefer and Tyler Zedalis to load the bases. After striking out catcher Hayden Blair, Gabe Young singled to plate Mass for a 1-0 Bristol lead. Lee Ellis then singled to bring home another State Liner run and Esteban Garcia’s base knock brought home two more runs for a 4-0 Bristol advantage.

Bristol tacked on one more run on a ground ball from Alex Cromwell to stake the State Liners to a 5-0 lead. In the fifth, Dane Bjorn came on for Betsy and did not fare well as Bristol torched him for two more runs on an RBI single from Zedalis and a run-scoring double play ground ball to make it a 7-0 contest.

Elizabethton fought back with three runs in the bottom of the inning as Tanner Waldrop and Austin Hartsell each drew a walk from Bristol’s lefty starter Matt Lynch. Shortstop Carlos Irizarry singled home a run, and one out later, Adam Magpoc tripled to right field to make it a 7-3 score.

Evan Saulys came on in the sixth and was not effective as he plunked leadoff hitter Ellis, and one out later, Cromwell belted his first home run of the season to make it a 9-3 game. A two-bagger from Schaefer brought home another run and Zedalis stroked his second home run of the season to stake Bristol to a 12-3 advantage.

Elijah Karney came on for the River Riders in the seventh, and he pitched three quality innings, giving up one run on three hits – including a solo homer from Schaefer – striking out six and walking none.

“I am real excited for him coming in,” Owens said. “He ate up some innings for us and we got a little thin tonight, but I like what he does. He pounds the zone and it was real good to have someone step up for us tonight.”

In the bottom of the ninth Waldrop belted a majestic two-run home run over the scoreboard in centerfield in one of the longest blasts this reporter has seen in more than 20 years covering baseball at NCCU ballpark for the final runs of the contest.

“He got him a good pitch he could handle and he didn’t miss it,” Owens said. “He got two RBI and had a little success and some extra confidence and I hope it carries over for him to his next opportunity.”

Bristol 13-5

Bristol 000 525 001 – 13 11 1

Elizabethton 000 030 002 – 5 4 0

W – Robertson L-West

HR – Cromwell (1), Zedalis (2), Schaefer (1), Waldrop (1), Magpoc (1)