A three-hit shutout by Dylan Richardson, strong defense and a big day at the plate from Hunter Hodges lifted the Cyclones to a 10-0 win over Johnson County in the District 1-AA baseball tournament Sunday.
“I feel like we went in too high on Friday night, and that came back to bite us on Saturday,” said Cyclones head coach Joe Nix, referring to an 8-2 loss to Sullivan South. “Today we were even keel, excited and focused going into the game. We did the job up and down the lineup, and Dylan definitely threw a great game.”
Elizabethton (16-21) advanced to play Sullivan East (14-13) in the losers’ bracket semifinal today at 5 p.m. In the winners’ bracket final at 7:30, Unicoi County takes on Sullivan South.
In Sunday’s first losers’ bracket game, Johnson County eliminated Happy Valley in a 4-1 decision.
The Cyclones wasted little time establishing an attack. After an error and a walk in the bottom of the first inning, Hodges visited the other half of the football field with a three-run drive over the left field fence at J. Fred Johnson Stadium.
“He threw me a hanging curveball, and I didn’t get it much,” said Hodges. “Then he threw another curve that was down. Then he came in with a fastball, and I squared it up.”
Later in the inning, Cameron Miller and Caleb Armstrong delivered RBI singles and the Longhorns were in a 5-0 hole.
That was plenty for Richardson, who was dealing.
“Anytime they were knocking on the door to score, Dylan had laser focus,” said Nix. “His control was better. He had more zip on his fastball, more break on his curveball. He had extra focus when he needed it.”
Elizabethton added to its advantage with Justin Carr’s second-inning sacrifice fly.
In the fifth inning, Armstrong drove in a run with a bases-loaded groundout. The next batter, Eric Carter, banged one off the wall for a two-run double and a 9-0 lead.
Hodges finished 3 for 4 with three RBIs and two runs in the game.
“I was seeing it good, but I wasn’t over-thinking it at the plate,” said Hodges. “I just tried to let my ability do it.”
Hunter Richardson finished with two hits for the Cyclones while Carter and Armstrong each had two RBIs.
Hodges said the Cyclones still believe they can reach the regional.
“We’ve still got a shot,” he said. “We’ve got plenty left.”
Johnson County ended its season at 11-11.
Johnson County 4
Happy Valley 1
Logan Sargent delivered just what Johnson County needed.
The right-hander tossed a tidy four-hitter, getting final-out help from reliever Sam Thomas. Sargent (2-2) went 6 2/3 innings, walking four and striking out four.
“He gave us everything we could ask for and more,” said Longhorns’ head coach Pete Pavusek. “He was under 100 pitches. I hated to pull him with the bases loaded.”
Thomas coaxed a soft grounder to first and took the throw for the final out of the game.
Nick Whitener was 1 for 3 with an RBI while Blade Hampton added an RBI double. Sam Thomas also had an RBI.
It was a season-ender for Happy Valley, which was 10-21 officially because of forfeits. On the field, the Warriors ended at 15-16.