River Riders fall to ninth inning JC rally

Published 8:24 am Monday, July 1, 2024

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JOHNSON CITY — Picking up where they left off on Friday, the Elizabethton River Riders (8-13) enjoyed a five-run first inning at TVC Credit Union Ballpark following a 10-8 win on Thursday. Unfortunately, that was all the runs they would score as the Johnson City Doughboys (11-9) rallied for a 6-5 win in the bottom of the ninth.

“We put up a crooked number early, but offensively we just couldn’t get that other hit,” River Riders manager Jeremy Owens said. “We had two or three opportunities to get it done, and I don’t want to take anything away from Johnson City. They made some pitches in situations to help themselves.”

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Trent Rice opened the game with a single to right centerfield and Jaxon Diamond drew a walk to put runners on first and second. Cole Torbett also worked a free pass from Doughboys starter Felix Morin to load the bases.

Catcher Jayden Lobliner then hit a sacrifice fly to plate Rice for a 1-0 Riders lead. Tanner Waldrop then singled in a run, and after a strikeout of Leandro Perez, Colin Sloan doubled off the wall in centerfield for two more runs and a 4-0 lead.

Third baseman James Woody Jr. singled home another run, and the Riders stood tall with a five-run advantage. Right-hander Spencer Atkins pitched five innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits with four strikeouts and two walks.

With two outs in the bottom of the first, Gunner Boree hit his third home run of the season—a solo shot that made it a 5-1 contest. In the fourth inning, Carson Kerce tripled off the wall in centerfield and Braden Spano doubled off the same wall to make it a 5-2 game.

In the top of the fifth, Diamond doubled to open the inning, but Morin proceeded to strike out the next three batters to halt the rally. In the bottom of the frame, Chase Bloomer singled with one out and Boree hit a ball that was tailing away from right fielder Perez down the line.

Perez initially caught the ball but bobbled it and dropped it for a two-base error that allowed Bloomer to score, making it a 5-3 ballgame.

“If you follow walks and errors, that tells you the story of the game,” Owens said. “If you don’t keep adding on in this league, teams are going to find a way to get back in it. Unfortunately, we didn’t score any more runs, but these are the kinds of ballgames I want to be in every single night no matter the outcome because these are the types of games that make these kids better.”

A two-run error by second baseman Diamond—who initially made a splendid play—led to Johnson City tying the game at 5-5 in the sixth inning. Spano was hit by Elijah Karney to open the frame, and Austin Lemon singled. With two outs, Logan Dunn drew a walk to load the bases.

Bloomer then hit a ball into the hole between first and second base. Diamond made a diving stop but his throw took Sloan off the bag at first base and two runs came across on the miscue.

“He made a great play and it’s unfortunate that his throw went wide,” Owens said.

The score remained static through the seventh, eighth, and top of the ninth. In the bottom of the ninth, the Doughboys began a game-winning rally against sidearm right-hander Johnny Montgomery.

Bloomer was hit by a pitch and Kyler Proctor popped out to second. Boree then hit a ball off the end of his bat that Sloan fielded, but his toss to Montgomery covering first was late, putting runners on the corners for Johnson City. An intentional walk was issued to Kerce to load the bases, but Spano hit a deep fly ball to center, allowing Bloomer to tag up and score the game-winning run.

Johnson City 6, Elizabethton 5

Elizabethton 500 000 000 – 5 8 2

Johnson City 100 112 001 – 6 6 0

W – Howell (1-1)

L – Montgomery (0-2)

HR – Boree (3)