E-Twins win Appy League-record 11th title

Contreras drives in three runs, helps complete sweep of Yanks

The Twins have won eight of their 11 championships during manager Ray Smith's 31-year tenure. (Appalachian League)

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com | September 9, 2017 1:44 AM

Drenched in ice water in what felt like 40-degree weather, Ray Smith was admittedly freezing. On the inside, however, he was burning up.

The veteran manager guided Elizabethton to an 8-7 win over Pulaski, a sweep of the best-of-3 Finals and the Twins' 11th Appalachian League championship on Friday at Calfee Park.

Box score

"It doesn't matter if you're playing in a rec league softball game or playing in the World Series, hopefully you got that [drive] within you that allows you to have some butterflies," he said. "And I want that. It gives you an edge. So yeah, I'm fired up."

Twins left fielder Mark Contreras picked up where he left off in the series opener as he homered in his second straight game. The ninth-round pick in this year's Draft went 2-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored.

"Mark came alive," Smith said. "We got a couple guys on and Mark hit -- it was very well-directed. … He hit it 261 [feet], so it was just enough to go out and it did give us the momentum. And we were able to maintain the momentum."

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Including Contreras, Smith was pleased with how the bottom of the lineup contributed, especially with big bats Andrew Bechtold and Colton Waltner on the disabled list. No. 8 hitter Carson Crites knocked an RBI double and T.J. Dixon registered two hits and an RBI out of the ninth spot.

"The bottom of the order, they did some damage for us, so without their offensive help and their defensive ability, we would have no chance," the manager said. "So they played both sides of the ball very well for us and we're very fortunate to have these guys in our organization."

Although Elizabethton had the lead from the second inning on, Pulaski made it close with a four-run seventh as Jesus Bastidas and Eric Wagaman hit back-to-back homers that prompted Smith to bring in his closer early.

Jovani Moran retired all seven batters he faced, striking out four, to notch his second postseason save.

"He's been pretty good for us. I had to go to him just a little bit early, but that's all we have," Smith said, referring to more injured players. "If we have a lead in the eighth, Moran is going to get the ball."

The Twins hoisted the trophy for the league-record 11th time. It's Elizabethton's first championship since 2012 and the eighth during Smith's 31-year tenure.

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"Guys came out to improve their skills and they ended up top of the heap, so I'm very, very proud of them," he said.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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