The 2017 Appalachian League championship series opened at Joe O'Brien Field on Thursday evening in chilly conditions. The Twins bats warmed the hearts of the home fans however with a 16-hit attack in a 12-1 victory over Pulaski to give Elizabethton a 1-0 series lead.
The pitching of right hander Nick Brown was pleasing to the home fans as well as he pitched six solid innings giving up one run (earned) on five hits. He struck out three and walked three. "My fastball wasn't going where I wanted it most of the day, but it was there when I needed it," Brown said. "The breaking ball was there all day and let me get ahead in the count. Getting runs like we did tonight takes a lot of the pressure off." The Twins got a run in the last of the first after centerfielder and Appalachian League Player of the Month, Akil Baddoo jump started the offense with a three-base hit. A ground ball one out later by third baseman Jose Miranda plated Baddoo and gave the Twins a 1-0 lead.
In the second frame, the Twins touched Yankees starter Daniel Ramos for four straight hits beginning with designated hitter Kolton Kendrick, followed by a single from second baseman Carson Crites. Left fielder Mark Contreras then crushed a first pitch delivery from Ramos over the fence in rightfield to give Betsy a 4-0 advantage.
Rightfielder T.J. Dixon also singled but was left stranded. Both teams scored runs in the fourth with Pulaski third baseman Ricky Surum collecting a two out double and catcher Victor Rey singled him home to cut the Twins lead to 4-1. Elizabethton answered with two runs in the last of the stanza with Dixon striking a one out double followed one out later by a two bagger from shortstop Gorge Munoz to plate Dixon. After Miranda was plunked by Yankees relief pitcher Gilmael Troya, first baseman J.J. Robinson singled past the glove of Andres Chaparro at first base and made it a 6-1 Twins lead. Robinson - who is making a strong case for Most Valuable Player - has had eight hits in the four games the Twins have played in the playoffs with seven runs batted in and two homers.
"I'm finally starting to connect," Robinson said. "You go through slumps and hot streaks during a long season but I am seeing the ball pretty well right now. This team has a lot of faith in each other and I know that if I don't get it done the next guy will." Munoz, who has been swinging the stick at a .353 clip over the last 10 games, continued his hot hitting with a two run double in the last of the fifth that brought home Crites - who had singled - and Contreras - who walked.
The Twins hitting onslaught continued in the sixth when Dixon crushed a two run homer to right off Yankee right hander Alexander Vizcaino to make it a 12-1 contest.
"Oh yeah, it definitely felt good," Dixon said. "I actually hit my first home run of the season against Pulaski so I kind of had some confidence going into it. This bunch was really motivated, we didn't feel like we swung the bats well but tonight started off with a bang."
Pulaski 000 100 000 - 1 9 0
E-Twins 130 242 00x - 12 16 0
W - Brown L - Ramos
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.