PRINCETON, WV – After nearly a week of struggles at the plate, the Elizabethton Twins connected for three home runs Tuesday and drove in runs when needed in extras, beating the Princeton Rays in 11 innings, 7-6.
Cody Laweryson started the back-and-forth affair, going five innings and giving up three runs on five hits and a walk, while striking out eight.
Owen Griffith followed him with two scoreless frames, using just 19 pitches and striking out three.
Matt Wallner gave Elizabethton its first lead in the top of the fifth, when he sent an opposite field blast to left field that scored Max Smith and at the time made the score 2-1. It was his sixth homer of the season.
While Princeton countered back with two runs in the bottom half, Seth Gray led off the sixth with a solo shot, his ninth home run of the year, tying the score up at three.
Will Holland gave the E-Twins the lead once more in the eighth, wrapping a solo home run around the left field foul pole for his seventh homer of the season.
The back-and-forth battle continued, as the Rays responded with a home run of their own off Tyler Beck and a scoreless ninth from Benjamin Dum forced extras after the Twins couldn’t score in the top half.
Playing past the ninth inning for the seventh time in 2019, Charles Mack doubled home Wallner in the top of the 10th, but Dum surrendered an unearned run in the bottom half that forced an 11th.
With Holland on second base to start the 11th, Janigson Villalobos doubled and both he and Holland scored on an Anthony Prato fielder’s choice that also included an error by Princeton first baseman Jake Guenther.
Those two runs were enough to keep the Rays at bay, as Princeton scored an unearned run off Denny Bentley in the bottom half of an otherwise perfect inning.
Dum’s two innings of work earned him his third win of the year, moving his record to 3-2 over six appearances. Bentley’s work in the 11th secured his second save of 2019.
Gray’s home run in the sixth was his third hit of the day, as it followed up a single in the second and a double in the fourth. He finished 3-5 on the day, one of six Twins batters who recorded two or more hits in the 15-hit team effort.
Prato, Smith, Wallner, Holland and Villalobos each contributed a two-hit day, with Mack, Villalobos and Parker Phillips contributing doubles. Wallner and Holland each scored two runs while Wallner was the only twin to drive in two.
Still just 2.5 games out of first place in the Appalachian League West Division, Elizabethton has a chance to gain serious ground on the first place Johnson City Cardinals with a two-game set in Johnson City to wrap up the Twins’ eight-game road trip.
Games Wednesday and Thursday both start at 6:30 p.m. at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.