Gonzales HR seals Twins' win in seesaw battle with K-Mets

George Thwaites • Jul 24, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Once again, the Appalachian League’s West Division leader arrived at Hunter Wright Stadium to face the last-place Kingsport Mets.

Once again, the result was an entertaining baseball game for the fans.

A solo homer in the eighth inning by Michael Gonzales lifted the Elizabethton Twins to a 7-6 win over the K-Mets on Friday night.

“Every time we come here, crazy stuff happens. Sometimes we benefit from the crazy stuff and a lot of times we get snake-bit by the crazy stuff,” said Elizabethton manager Ray Smith, who also got a critical grand slam from Jonathan Goncalves.

Kingsport (10-20) managed to win two out of three the last time the Twins (23-8) were in town. A recurrence of that is still far from unthinkable.

“I’m proud of my guys. Good or bad, we’re in it to the end ,” said K-Mets manager Mike DiFelice.

Kingsport starter Armando Rodriguez got himself into trouble in the second inning, loading the bases with consecutive walks to Tobias Streich and Gonzales before giving up a single to Anderson Hidalgo.

Gered Mochizuki helped out Rodriguez by turning an unassisted double play off Reggie Williams’ grounder but not before Streich crossed the plate for the E-Twins’ first run.

Kingsport jumped on Elizabethton starter Angelo Sanchez in the third for five runs off four hits and an error. The rally included two-RBI base rips by Jeff Flagg and Richard Lucas, with Cesar Puello adding an RBI single for the 5-1 lead.

So much for the afterglow. The Twins roared to the fore with five runs off four hits and an error in the top of the fourth. Goncalves’ base-clearing blast over the U.S. Army sign in left field put Elizabethton ahead 6-5.

“Offensively, we put a lot of pressure on teams early in the game and we’re not doing a good job closing the door. We’re giving it right back,” DiFelice said.

“The game wasn’t lost in the eighth inning. The game was lost in the top of the fourth.”

Kingsport tied it at 6 in the bottom frame after Tyler Howe absorbed a plunk from Sanchez to lead off. Southpaw Winston Marquez took over for the beleaguered Twins starter. Successive groundouts by Mochizuki and Darrell Ceciliani got Howe to third. He scored on a passed ball by Streich.

Howe tried to get something else started in the sixth with a leadoff double, but Marquez got his act together and collected a couple of strikeouts before Alonzo Harris grounded out to short, leaving Howe stranded at second.

The 6-foot-6, 245-pound Gonzales gave Elizabethton the go-ahead with two out in the top of the eighth. Kingsport reliever Chris Hilliard (2-2) left the ball up on a 2-1 count and paid dearly for missing his spot. Gonzales crushed it over the trees behind the scoreboard in right field.

As impressive as that bomb was for the spectators, Smith said he’s more interested in coaxing the left-hitting behemoth to use the whole field.

“He’s a big, strong guy and he gets a little bit pull-happy, a little uphill sometimes,” Smith said. “Look at him. As you can see, he’s a big Hercules-looking guy. He just squared it up and happened to get one. That’s not going to happen all the time.”

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