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Playing to a draw… Cyclones, Braves finish in an 8-8 sixth-inning tie

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
JOHNSON CITY – For fans of offensive baseball, Monday’s contest between the Cyclones and Braves played at TVA Credit Union Ballpark in the East Tennessee Baseball League provided its money’s worth as the two teams combined for 18 hits and 16 runs.
But at the end of the two-hour time limit, the two teams were right back where they started and that was in a deadlock as the game ended in an 8-8 tie.
Trailing 5-3 entering the top of the third inning, the Cyclones put together a four-run frame to retake the lead, 7-5.
Shortstop Bryson Rollins led off the inning by lacing a single and stealing second base. It appeared that the Braves would work themselves out of the inning by recording back-to-back strikeouts.
However, the Cyclones were ready to fold up their tents.
Jaden Anderson reached on an error by the Braves shortstop allowing Rollins to come home for a Cyclone run. A single by Padrig Murphy then plated Anderson.
Ethan Meier drew a walk to put runners at first and second base for the Cyclones. A rocket off the bat of Cade Russell was misplayed by Braves shortstop Zack Zuelke allowing two more runs to score to allow the Cyclones to retake the lead.
The Braves got one run back in the bottom of the frame as Will Stevens reached on an error and worked his way around the bags on three wild pitches by Cyclone pitcher Peyton Johnson to make it a 7-6 contest.
After a scoreless fourth inning by both teams, the Cyclones couldn’t muster anything in their half of the fifth before the Braves responded with two runs in the bottom of the fifth with two outs.
Stevens laced a single and stole second base. Brady Aldrich worked a base on balls to put runners at first and second base.
Jesse Green ripped a two-run double to plate both Braves. The Cyclones managed to work themselves out of a bases-loaded jam when Wesley Shankles knocked down a blast off the bat of Hudson York at third base and stepped on the bag for the third out of the inning.
Trailing 8-7 heading into the sixth inning and time ticking quickly away, the Cyclones knew what lied before them and responded accordingly.
With one out, center fielder Russell connected for a standup triple to give the Cyclones much-needed life. When Johnson hit a tricky-hop bouncer toward second, Russell took off for home and scored easily as Johnson reached on the fielding error.
That was all the Cyclones could come up with as the Braves set down the next two Cyclone batters on pop flies.
With the game knotted at 8-8, one run was all it was going to take to win the ballgame for the Braves and things looked good early.
Blake Hawkins led off the bottom of the sixth with a walk and advanced to second base on a stolen base. Zuelke followed with a single chasing Hawkins to third base with the winning run.
From that point, it was all on the shoulders of relief pitcher Rilee Hurley who showed no nerves as he enticed Miles Bembry into a fly ball to left fielder Meier for the first out of the inning.
Hurley then made a perfect pitch to Joseph Kent who hit into a grounder and was thrown out at first base by third baseman Shankles for the second out.
The Braves had one more opportunity with Stevens at the dish but Hurley once again made the pitch he needed to make to entice Stevens to fly out to right field to end the threat and bring the game to an end as well with an 8-8 deadlock.