ELIZABETHTON — Sam Gibbons wasn’t as dominating as last time out, but the Elizabethton Twins’ starting pitcher was good enough to win.
Gibbons held the Kingsport Mets to two runs in five innings and the Twins rallied for a 5-2 victory Wednesday night at Joe O’Brien Field in a game that lasted just two hours, 13 minutes.
In Gibbons’ last start, he struck out 11 batters — including eight in a row — and lost 2-0 on a two-run homer.
“Last game I knew I could throw everything where I wanted,” said the lefty from Victoria, Australia. “This game was a bit edgy, but I felt good out there still. I tried to keep our guys in the game.”
Gibbons (2-1) gave up seven hits while struggling with the command on the early going. He was saved when his off-speed pitches began to work and kept the Mets off balance.
“All of a sudden he pulled a changeup out of his hat in the fourth or fifth inning, which helped him,” Twins manager Ray Smith said. “He couldn’t command his fastball. They barreled him up pretty good.”
And this time, the Twins game Gibbons just enough support.
Kingsport was leading 2-1 when Elizabethton’s Jonaton Hinojosa ripped a line drive to left field for a two-run double and a 3-2 lead.
That’s when the real fun began. Kingsport left-fielder Oswald Caraballo’s throw to second was high, allowing Hinojosa to head toward third. First baseman Pedro Perez then threw wildly to third, and Hinojosa slid home to give the Twins a 4-2 advantage.
“Snowball fight, it was a snowball fight” Smith said. “My neck got sore. Balls were going everywhere.”
The Little League home run came two nights after the Mets committed eight errors in an unlikely win over the Pulaski Mariners.
There was nothing cheap or easy about the Twins’ next run. Tyler Kuresa mashed a pitch over the right field wall for a solo home run in the sixth inning. It was his first professional homer.
“It always feels good to get the first one out of the way,” said Kuresa, a product of Santa Barbara. “I was looking for a fastball and I got it and put a good swing on it.
“I didn’t think I had it. I thought maybe it was gonna hit off the wall based on how the right fielder was playing it. He looked like he was getting ready for a rebound so I was hustling out of the box just trying to get to second. I was pretty happy it went out.”
Hinojosa was the only Elizabethton player with two hits. Cameron Booser earned his first save with two innings of scoreless relief.
Pedro Perez had three his for the Mets, while Luis Ortega added two and raised his batting average to .464. Gaby Almonte (0-2_ was the losing pitcher after allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits in six innings.
The Twins benefitted from three double plays.
The two teams meet again today at 7 p.m. at Joe O’Brien Field. It will be Johnson City Press night.
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