The Twins will travel to Princeton for game one of the series Tuesday with a 7 p.m. first pitch. Elizabethton will host the Rays in game two on Wednesday night and game three, if necessary, on Thursday.
Elizabethton went 2-2 against Princeton this season with the final two games rained out. Elizabethton captured the West Division crown behind a 39-27 record while Princeton won the East at 44-22. The Twins own seven league championships since 2000 and 12 titles overall since becoming part of the Twins organization.A season ago, Elizabethton swept the championship series against Pulaski. Meanwhile, Princeton has one Appalachian League championship, coming in 1994 as a Reds’ affiliate.
“Wins and losses do matter,” Elizabethton manager Ray Smith said. “It means that the players are developing and maximizing their abilities. We want to go as hard as we can, if the players are getting better and giving you good effort every day then the wins will take care of themselves.”
Mets take first lead, Twins tie things
Shervyen Newton led off the Mets’ second inning with a slow infield single to third base. A one-out walk was followed by Kenny Hernandez hit by a pitch to load the bases. That brought up Martinez who sent a sacrifice fly to centerfield to break the scoreless tie. Martinez had another hit in a 2-for-2 effort, the only Kingsport player with multiple hits.
The lead was short lived. After a double play cleared the bases for Elizabethton in the bottom of the second, the rally started. Back-to-back walks to Lean Marrero and Cosgrove set up Encarnacion who laced a RBI single to centerfield.
Missed run, then Twins take lead
The Twins’ Yeltsin Encarnacion led off the fifth inning with a walk. He advanced to second on an error. Yunior Severino lined a single to center as Encarnacion came around. Before the next pitch, the Mets appealed Encarnacion touching third base in which he was called out keeping the game tied at one at the moment.
Severino was 3-for-5 at the plate to lead the Twins’ attack.
That did not deter the home side. DaShawn Keirsey, Jr. followed with a walk then Gilberto Celestino dropped a single into the right center gap to build a 3-1 lead.
Teams trade scores
The Mets’ Guillermo Granadillo drew his third walk of the contest in the sixth. A wild pitch moved the left fielder up to scoring position as Domingo Martinez produced a RBI single to center to trim the margin in half.
Elizabethton loaded the bases in the seventh which allowed Chris Williams to deliver a RBI sacrifice fly to right to extend the advantage to 4-2. The home side added an insurance run in their half of the eighth inning thanks to Severino’s single to score Andrew Cosgrove. Both teams missed opportunities as both Elizabethton and Kingsport left 10 runners on base.
“That’s a good ball club over there,” Kingsport’s first year manager Sean Ratliff said about Elizabethton. “We’re young in this clubhouse, it’s a good experience for all of these guys to get into postseason baseball. We played well and had our chances.”
Brian Rapp kept the Twins in front with 3 2/3 innings of relief. The 26th-round selection in this year’s draft gave up a run on four hits. Tanner Howell closed the game out with a perfect ninth inning. Kingsport’s starter Dedniel Nunez tossed the first 4 1/3 innings. Nunez was tagged for three earned runs on five hits. He struck out half a dozen.