Elizabethton's Smith pleased with opening night

Douglas Fritz • Jun 19, 2019 at 12:40 PM

Elizabethton opened its Appalachian League baseball season in style Tuesday night, and Twins manager Ray Smith said he liked what he saw from his starting pitcher.

Prelander Berroa was the starting point for 7 1/3 no-hit innings before teammate Tyler Webb bailed out the Twins with a walk-off two-run double in the 3-2 win over Bluefield.

Elizabethton will try to build more momentum Wednesday in game two of the three-game series. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. at Northeast Community Credit Union Ballpark.

It’s a little surprising the game ended with a big hit when dominant pitching was the story for the first seven innings. Included in the mix was the 19-year-old Dominican Republic product. Berroa started things with 4 2/3 innings of no-hit ball, striking out seven batters.

Smith said Berroa earned mound credit before this season started.

“He was an 18-year-old kid last year that they sent up from the Gulf Coast League,” said Smith. “He acted like he was a 25-year-old guy. In crunch time, in a playoff atmosphere, we started him in that championship game.”

Berroa pitched five innings, allowing just four hits and one run. He walked one and struck out four batters.

“He shut them down for five innings and gave us a chance to score a couple late to win that game against those Princeton guys,” said Smith.

Berroa, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound right-hander has the tools to succeed on the mound at the professional level, Smith said.

“He goes after you with a pretty good plus arm,” said Smith. “He has good stuff and good mound presence. He has an idea. He’s a good defensive player, and shuts down the run game.”

The Twins staff racked up 13 strikeouts in nine innings of work. The best ratio was Steven Cruz, who whiffed four in 1 1/3 innings.

Offensively, it was pretty much Webb’s night. The 23-year-old Texan was the only player in the game with multiple hits.

Smith said Webb had an opportunity in his final at-bat because of a positive count — even though the winning hit came on a 3-2 pitch.

“We talk to these guys about working their tails off to get to an offensive count at 2-0 or 3-1,” said Smith. “Then you’re going to get a cookie. And if you get a ball in your zone, don’t miss it.”

After taking a 3-1 pitch that Smith said “was nasty,” Webb actually got the cookie on the 3-2 offering.

“It was right down Broadway, belt high, and he smoked it,” said Smith.

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