ELIZABETHTON — A good old-fashioned pitchers’ duel was momentarily derailed by a bout of wildness. And that was all the Elizabethton Twins needed.
The Twins scored two late runs on wild pitches to beat the Pulaski Mariners 2-0 in their home opener Sunday night at Joe O’Brien Field.
“That’s our best player, the opposing pitcher throwing the ball in the dirt,” said Twins manager Ray Smith, whose team scored several runs on wild pitches during its opening series at Greeneville. “He’s our best offensive guy.
“That’s a big part of the game, base running. Not enough time is spent on it.”
Three Elizabethton pitchers combined on the shutout, the team’s first of the season. They held the Mariners to four hits.
The Twins (3-1) only had two hits, but they made the most of the second one.
Brian Navaretto led off the seventh with a seeing-eye single that fell between the center fielder, left fielder and shortstop. Jonaton Hinojosa then came in to run for Navaretto and advanced to second and third on two wild pitches by Pulaski reliever Peter Miller (0-1) before scoring on a third.
“I never had seen that,” Hinojosa said. “I have to be ready for all the pitches, wild pitches, and be prepared to run the bases all the time.”
Tyler Mautner added an insurance run on another wild pitch from Miller in the eighth inning. Miller, a ninth-round pick out of Florida State, finished with four wild pitches, two hit batters and two walks in 1 2/3 innings.
“I really don’t start playing ‘Judy ball’ until the eighth inning,” Smith said. “I got to thinking ‘We’d better take our chances here.’ Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Twins starter Felix Jorge held Pulaski to two hits over five innings. He walked one and struck out four. Kua Hua Lo (1-0) earned the win with two scoreless innings of relief.
“Jorge didn’t have a real good feel those first few innings and they hit some bolts right at us,” Smith said. “But then his last two innings were not bad. That’s an encouraging thing.”
Jake Reed earned his first save with two innings of scoreless work.
Pulaski starter Troy Scott allowed one hit in five innings.
The Mariners threatened to tie it in the top of the eighth when they were trailing 1-0. Gianfranco Wawoe slapped a two-out single, stole second and advanced to third on an error. But Reed got Mariners leadoff hitter Nelson Ward to ground out to end the inning.
The loss was Pulaski’s first of the season. The Mariners fell to 3-1, but still lead the Appalachian League’s East Division.
With his team tied with Johnson City for first place in the West Division, Smith says he likes what he sees so far.
“They’re trying hard and not dogging it,” Smith said. “When they start to lose a few games, we’ll see what they’re made of then. Everything’s fine when you’re winning. When you’re struggling a little bit, you want to see who can maintain that attitude and energy level. That’s what special players do.”
The attendance was 1,053. The two teams will play again today at 7 p.m. at Joe O’Brien Field.comments powered by Disqus