Dominant start by Brewer leads to River Riders sweep of Kingsport
BY ANDREW SMITH
On a Monday evening that saw a cloudy evening give way to cotton candy skies, the Elizabethton River Riders (25-20) were able to complete a two-game sweep of the Kingsport Axmen (4-12) at Northeast Community Credit Union Ballpark.
The key to victory for the River Riders was the start on the mound by Alex Brewer. Brewer ran into some two-out trouble in the top of the first, however. He gave up back-to-back soft base hits to shortstop Caleb McNeely and designated hitter Cole Hales.
Brewer remained unfazed, as he would strike out second baseman Darian Farley, which began a run of recording thirteen straight outs of Kingsport hitters.
Brewer got some run support in the second inning. E-Town catcher Deric Graham hit a long home run to left field with one out to give the River Riders a 1-0 lead. The bomb marked Graham’s first, in just his second game in the Appalachian League.
The River Riders added on to their lead in the fourth. Second baseman Jonathan “Pepe” Soto got himself in scoring position by hitting a one-out triple. He would be brought home by the next Elizabethton hitter in first baseman Eli Young, who came through with a single.
Young would score a run himself after moving to second on a wild pitch, to third on a flyout by Graham, and cross home on a single by third baseman Reagan Guthrie, giving the River Riders a 3-0 lead heading into the fourth.
E-Town wasn’t done adding on either, as they sent eight hitters to the plate in the fourth. Left fielder Dalton McClain (Walters State) reached via a one-out single, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. He would score on a double by center fielder Logan Sanders, making things 4-0.
All-Star shortstop Marcus Brown ensured Sanders wouldn’t be stranded at second, as he would hit a 2-0 fastball high and deep into right field for a homer, giving Elizabethton a 6-0 lead. The moonshot blast by Brown was his second of the summer.
The string of Axmen retired for Brewer came to an end in the top of the sixth, when right fielder Marco Romero led off the inning with a double. He advanced to third on a groundout by third baseman Preston Steele and scored on a groundout by center fielder Kyle Williams to score the first run of the night for Kingsport, closing the deficit to 6-1.
The Axmen kept battling in the seventh, as they would face a new arm in Peyton Whitson. Farley walked on four straight pitches to begin the inning. After a foul out to Graham by first baseman Logan Harbin, catcher Blake Scott walked to put runners on first and second.
With two outs in the inning, Romero would hit his second double in as many innings, this time driving in both Farley and Scott, bringing the Axmen closer as it was now 6-3 in favor of the River Riders.
Heading into the eighth inning, E-Town made sure their bullpen would not be tasked with a save situation. With one out, right fielder Chance Hall (Milligan) reached on an error by Steele.
He reached second on a walk by second baseman Michael Robinson, and scored on a double into left by McClain, extending the lead to 7-3.
Chandler Padgett came in for the ninth for the River Riders, and he worked a 1-2-3 frame to complete the sweep for Elizabethton.
Despite the sweep, E-Town fell out of contention for the Appy League West title due to an 11-5 win for the Greeneville Flyboys over the Johnson City Doughboys Monday, clinching the division for the Flyboys.
The River Riders will be back in action on Wednesday night, as they will begin a two-game series with the Doughboys in Johnson City. They will return home for the last two games of the season Friday and Saturday, as they will play host to the Danville Otterbots.
River Riders 7-3
Kingsport 3 5 1
Elizabethton 7 10 0
W: Alex Brewer (1-4)
L: Brock Browning (1-1)