It was about the only show in the Tri-Cities as far as high school athletics was concerned on Tuesday evening and the game had about anything one wanted to see as the Elizabethton Cyclones dug an early hole only to get a shot of life late to take a big Three Rivers Conference win by the score of 11-7 over the visiting Sullivan North Raiders.
Both teams play defensively at times was about as nasty as the cold, drizzling rain that fell off and on during the contest, but in the end the Cyclones seemed to get the momentum swing they needed in battling back from a 6-1 deficit at the end of three and a half innings of play.
North managed to dent the scoreboard first without a hit as with two outs in the top of the first inning, Payton Marshall worked a walk from Cyclone starting pitcher McKenly Berry.
Marshall stole second and took third on a wild pitch uncorked by Berry. A passed ball allowed Marshall to scamper home for the early 1-0 lead.
Elizabethton appeared to have evened the score in the bottom of the inning after lead-off batter Jordan Hinshaw ripped a double to center and stole third base.
Cyclone catcher Thomas Miller lofted a fly ball to left field with Hinshaw tagging and heading for the plate. Hinshaw crossed the dish safely according to the home plate umpire but the field umpire called Hinshaw out for not tagging bringing a heated argument from Elizabethton head coach Joe Nix but to no avail.
The call seemed to have dropped the spirits of the Cyclones in the second as North hung three more runs on the scoreboard.
Will White reached safely on an error on Cyclone first baseman Bryan Mullins. Cory Rowe drew a base on balls right behind White.
Berry appeared like he might work out of the inning without any damage after retiring Brandon Peters and Chris Gilliam on strikeouts, but a walk to Derek Price filled the bases with Raiders.
Marshall made the Cyclones pay as the North center fielder tore into a Berry offering for a scalding double that sent all three Raiders home for a 4-0 advantage.
Elizabethton broke the egg on their side of the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning as Mullins made amends for his error by blasting a triple. Taylor Edwards sacrifice fly to center scored Mullins shaving the deficit by one, 4-1.
North wasted little time in reclaiming the run by scoring a solo run in the top of the third.
Dylan Price led off with a single and took third on a sacrifice bunt by Zach Ball that turned into Ball reaching first as Berry dropped the ball trying to get it to Mullins at first and then threw the ball away allowing Price to reach third and Ball second.
Berry unleashed another wild pitch that allowed Price to come home from third for the 5-1 North edge.
After a three up and three down bottom of the third, North added another solo run in the top of the fourth once again on the heels of the Cyclones becoming sloppy with their defense.
Marshall picked up his second hit of the game with a single. Two errors by Berry allowed Marshall to work around to third base.
Berry just couldn't get a break as the junior hurler let go of another wild pitch that sent Marshall home for North's sixth run of the game and a 6-1 advantage.
The Cyclones were called together when they came off the field by Coach Nix but before Nix could say a word, senior first baseman Mullins was giving his teammates a pep talk.
Whatever Mullins said to his team seemed to inject an infusion of life as the Cyclones rallied for four runs in the bottom of the frame.
Tony Ward walked to lead off the inning. Mullins followed with a single. North retired the next two batters before Ward scored on a passed ball and Mullins went to third.
Chad Pritchard followed with his second base hit, a single, to score Mullins. Berry reached on an infield single and the Cyclones were in business.
Hinshaw tore into a double that plated both Pritchard and courtesy runner Clayton Ray to draw the Cyclones to within a single run, 6-5.
The Cyclones finally managed to do something they hadn't done the entire game and that was hold North scoreless in the fifth.
Berry had two strikeouts in the inning and received another brilliant play from his battery mate, Thomas Miller, who picked off Cory Rowe trying to steal third base to help EHS keep the Raiders at bay.
Elizabethton also went scoreless in the frame, but the momentum had seemed to swing back over to the Cyclone side of the diamond.
Wes Montgomery, who notched his first win of the season in his first start at Boone in the Coke Classic on Friday, came in relief of Berry in the top of the sixth inning and worked a quick three up, three down frame.
The Cyclones then erupted for six runs in the bottom of the inning to seize control of the contest by sending 11 batters to the plate.
Pritchard continued to swing a hot bat from the eight-hole by swatting his third hit in three plate appearances. He was erased trying to steal second base.
Montgomery collected a single followed by a walk to Hinshaw. Kasey King's single gave the Cyclones their first lead of the game as both Montgomery and Hinshaw crossed the plate. King took third on an error by Raider first baseman Titus Lacayo.
A two-base throwing error on North's White allowed King to score and Miller to go to second. Miller worked to third on a wild pitch from Ball. Ward notched a RBI on a single with Jake Hubbard coming in to remove the designated hitter role from Ward.
Hubbard swiped second base and scored when a ball hit by Mullins was sent high over the first baseman's head by shortstop Derek Price which sent Hubbard home. C.J. Bowling then laced a single to bring home Mullins to complete the six-run sixth inning for Elizabethton to give the Cyclones a 11-6 lead.
North added a run to their side of the ledger in the top of the seventh when Montgomery walked Dylan Price walked and White singled to send Price to third.
Rowe's sacrifice fly brought Price home for the final run of the game.
Montgomery picked up the win going the final two innings, allowing only one run. Berry worked five innings recording 10 strikeouts and seven walks while allowing only five hits and giving up six runs.
His counterpart, losing pitcher Zach Ball, went 5-1/3 innings issuing 11 runs on 11 hits while striking out two and walking four. Rowe came on in relief and gave up two hits and no runs in his relief appearance.
Pritchard led the way with three hits for Elizabethton followed by two each coming from Hinshaw and Mullins. King, Ward, Bowling, Berry, and Montgomery added one apiece.
Marshall had two hits to lead North while Dylan Price, White, Rowe, and Peters all had one hit each.
Coach Joe Nix was happy to see Mullins step up and issue the same challenge he was preparing to give his squad.
"Bryan called everyone up and challenged the guys to change their approach to the way they were swinging against North's pitcher," said Nix. "He told them they were only a few hits away from getting back into the game.
"He took the senior leadership role and challenged the guys to show more that what we were. I thought that was a good job of stepping up because when players get on each other in a positive way, it's much better than when a coach does it. It was what you hope to see from your seniors."
Nix also felt that this particular game may go a long way in benefiting his club.
"It's a good confidence builder after being down 6-1," added Nix. "We kept coming back. The guys knew we were going to come back and win."
Hinshaw felt like the game said something about this Cyclone team.
"It was a big win tonight because we didn't come out and play like we are capable of," said Hinshaw. "We came back and I think that showed maturity.
"The Sullivan East coaches were in the stands, and I hope that we showed we are a team to contend with."
For Pritchard, just having the opportunity to get back on the diamond after having to sit out half the season was big.
"This was a good turn around for me after having to sit out half the season," stated Pritchard. "Our sticks got us going to spark things for us, and we just kept rolling."
Elizabethton (7-9, 4-2) plays host to John Battle today at 4:30 p.m. at Twins Field in a non-conference tilt.
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North 131 100 1 -- 7 6 5
EHS 010 406 x -- 11 12 5
Ball, Rowe (6), and Gilliam. Berry, Montgomery (6), and Miller.