Key moments late in the contest kept the Cyclones alive Wednesday.
The Cyclones got a clutch two-out tie-breaking single from Jaden Anderson in the sixth inning and held on for a 4-2 win over Pigeon Forge in the Class AA state baseball tournament Wednesday at Blackman High School.
Elizabethton avoided elimination and improved to 27-9, moving into Wednesday evening’s losers’ bracket final against Nolensville, 12-4 loser to Covington. The game is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. (EDT).
BIG GAME NICO
With two outs in the sixth inning and nobody on, Nico Ashley put down a bunt and reached for a base hit. He then stole second base.
One of the biggest parts of Ashley reaching base was extending the inning, increasing the pitch count of Pigeon Forge starter Hunter Monday, who was nearing the single-game limit of 120.
Monday then walked Karson Dillard, who was also a pitch-count weapon as it was his third free pass of the game.
With a 2-1 count on Anderson, Pigeon Forge turned the ball over to Noah Gent. After a strike, Anderson slashed a single to right field.
“As soon as I saw the ball going into right field, I knew I was sending Nico,” said Cyclones’ head coach Ryan Presnell.
Ashley scored to make it 3-2, and Dillard went to third on the throw. That was important as Evan Carter reached safely on an error, allowing Dillard to score for a 4-2 lead.
CARTER IN CONTROL
As usual, Carter was in command on the mound. He allowed a couple of seventh-inning singles, but closed the door to earn his 10th consecutive win and finish the season with a 10-2 mark.
Both Carter and teammate Matthew Dailey have used the maximum amount of pitches for the tournament — barring an unexpected rainout.
Carter allowed four hits and two runs, one earned, with three walks and five strikeouts.
Ashley finished with three hits in three at-bats, hitting out of the No. 9 hole. Anderson totaled two hits. Dailey had an RBI.
Monday had the only RBI for the Tigers, who finished with a record of 27-9. On the mound, he allowed six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He gave up four runs, three earned, while walking five and striking out six.