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Cyclones capture second straight 1-AA title

Douglas Fritz • May 9, 2018 at 1:40 AM

JOHNSON CITY — Elizabethton answered Unicoi County’s challenge, quickly erasing a fourth-inning deficit and working its way to a 7-1 win in the District 1-AA baseball tournament championship at TVA Credit Union Ballpark on Tuesday night.

It was the second straight district title for Elizabethton, which also won back-to-back crowns in 2006-07.

“It has been very intentional,” said Cyclones coach Ryan Presnell. “From the time we left Pigeon Forge’s field last year, we knew what we needed to do. We talked for two hours on the bus coming back, and the staff met for five hours the next day. This was on purpose and this was planned.”

The Cyclones (23-8) earned home-field advantage for Monday’s region semifinal against the District 2-AA runner-up. Unicoi County (20-14), which qualified for the region with a 9-3 win over Sullivan East in Tuesday’s first game, will travel to face the District 2-AA champion.

Elizabethton shortstop Corey Russell was selected the tournament’s most valuable player. He said the Cyclones just came in confident.

“We knew we could do what we did out there today,” Russell said. “We showed what we can do, played good all together and hit the ball good. We’ve been working all year, all season, trying to get to this point. Everybody in our lineup is confident.”

Elizabethton got two solid innings from starter Matthew Dailey, who struck out four batters. He was followed by Lawson Wagner, who earned the win by closing it out with five innings and getting five strikeouts.

Ramon Avila accounted for the Blue Devils’ run by executing a safety-squeeze bunt, pushing the ball toward the first baseman and plating Peyton Whitson.

In Unicoi County’s win over Sullivan East, Hunter Higgins led the Blue Devils with three hits, two of them doubles. He also drove in four runs.

Dylan White had a two-run double for the Patriots in their season-ending loss.

Joining Russell on the all-tournament team were Elizabethton’s Tre Shoun, Logan Estep and Ethan Eggleston, Unicoi County’s Caleb Wilson, Hunter Higgins and Keaton Casey, Sullivan East’s Hudson Standbridge and Elias Arnold, and Sullivan South’s Drew Creech.

 

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