But the Cyclones not only got there, they did it in dominating fashion.
Elizabethton whipped Alcoa 7-2 in a Class AA Sectional contest Friday at Alcoa.
Improving to 26-8, Elizabethton earned its second straight trip to Murfreesboro despite losing pitcher/shortstop Corey Russell back in the fall to a knee injury, and catcher/second baseman Evan Perkins in the district tournament to a leg injury.
“First thing I want to say is I want to give all the glory to my savior, Jesus Christ, for everything he has given me and my family,” said Cyclones’ head coach Ryan Presnell. “I had no doubt about this game since Wednesday night. It has nothing to do with Alcoa, that’s a heck of a baseball club. But I knew after Wednesday night, these kids grew up so much this week that there was nothing going to stop them. Nothing can stop a team of destiny.”
Alcoa finished with a record of 33-6.
SEIZING THE MOMENT
Elizabethton fell behind 1-0 in the first inning, but took control of the game in the third. The Cyclones scored three times with freshman Bryson Rollins delivering arguably the game’s biggest hit with a two-run bases-loaded single to center field on a 3-2 count.
“I was looking for a high fastball because it was 3-2 count, and he kind of left it up high,” said Rollins. “I knew he wasn’t going to throw off-speed, so I just leveled it back at him.”
Presnell said he wasn’t surprised by Rollins.
“He’s not a freshman,” said Presnell. “He’s just not. He hasn’t been since eighth grade. Since Day 1, he’s done the job.”
Rollins finished with two hits and three RBIs.
Elizabethton added two more runs in the fifth inning and never looked back.
Evan Carter didn’t start strong, but from the second inning until the finish he was in control. In the complete-game effort, he allowed just three hits and two runs, both unearned, with one walk and nine strikeouts.
“I didn’t feel any nervousness after that first inning, and I don’t think anybody else did, either,” said Carter.
Carter, who won his ninth straight game to improve to 9-2, said it was one of his better performances.
“I’d like to think so,” he said. “I was trying to throw all of my pitches good, and my defense helped me out a lot.”
Carter also had two hits at the plate. Karson Dillard and Jaden Anderson each scored a pair of runs.
Carter said Perkins and Russell are still in the mix.
“I know they’re happy for us and I wish they could be playing with us,” said Carter. “But they’re doing their part, and we call them Coach Perkins and Coach Russell. They’re definitely still contributing.”
Starter Will Shelton was knocked around for seven hits and six runs, five earned, in six innings. He walked three and struck out six.