The Danville Otterbots won against Elizabethton Monday night with a tiebreaking bases loaded walk by RJ Johnson.

The game itself was a gritty and hot affair as it was 93 degrees at first pitch.

All was scoreless until the bottom of the fourth when Ty Acker hit a two-run double off of Trevor Callahan with two outs to bring home Johnson and Grant Stephenson. Danville would tack on another run when Corbin Lanowitz would steal second, having Acker score, putting Danville up 3-0.

Elizabethton would start cutting into the lead half an inning later with an Austin Roccaforte sacrifice fly to center, bringing home Avery Owusu-Asiedu.

The River Riders would get another across when Alex McCoy cranked a solo home run to center off of Sawyer Osborne, 3-2.

The two teams would trade scoreless innings until the top of the ninth when Kevin Martin would blow the save due to a Jonathon Soto single to left with two outs.

For Elizabethon, Callahan pitched four innings, giving up three hits on three runs with two walks and two strikeouts. Jess Miller was solid with one inning pitched but giving up only one hit and striking out one. Maddox Pennington was also solid with two innings pitched giving up only one walk and striking out two. Ryan Widmeier rounded it out with two more innings pitched, giving up one hit and striking out one.

For Danville, Turner Thompson started and pitched three innings, with no hits allowed and walking two while striking out five. Mario Fernandez pitched one clean inning of work. Osborne pitched two innings, allowing one hit, two runs, striking out one, but walking four. Tanner Smith also pitched two innings allowing one run with two walks and striking out five. He was also credited with a hold. Besides the blown save, Martin pitched one inning giving up one hit and striking out one.

Bristol State Liners

The Otterbot pitching roster of Casey Keller, Mario Fernandez, Tanner Smith and Colbey Klepper kept the State Liners scoreless in all but two innings in their first match up June 8.

The Bots were not so lucky the second night aginst Bristol, June 9, losing 4-6.

During the first game between the two teams, the Bots pulled ahead in the first inning, scoring three runs against Bristol’s pitcher Jeffrey Gonzalez. Luke Stephenson got one runner 

home on a line drive down third base. Connor Bradshaw’s fly ball to left field, although caught by Bristol’s Hector Mangual, allowed two more runners to advance, pushing the score to 3-0 in favor of the Otterbots. 

The Bots would score again in the second inning, making it 4-0. 

Bristol returned to home plate in the top of the third to score their first two runs. 

Tensions ramped up in the top of the sixth when the State Liners were granted four walks, sending one player home and leaving bases loaded for Otterbots pitcher, Fernandez. Bristol’s Sean Smith’s hit allowed another three runners to cross the plate, pushing the State Liners into the lead, 4-6. 

After Bristol’s showing, the Otterbots struggled a bit in the bottom of the sixth with foul balls, a strike out and a fly ball caught in right field to make quick work of that inning. 

At the top of the seventh, Bristol’s Jack Tomlinson got a walk against Klepper on the mound. There was a line drive, a dropped ball at second and a close call at second with Bristol’s Hector Mangual called out by the referee, leading to a dispute by a Bristol coach.

It was in the bottom of the seventh that the Otterbots regrouped. The pressure was on Danville’s Reginald Johnson, who came to the plate with bases loaded.

Bristol replaced its pitcher with lefty Trip Banta to shake things up a bit. While Johnson was at the plate, Patrick Keighran was able to steal home, putting the Bots within striking range of taking the lead, 5-6. Johnson received four balls and walked to first, again loading the bases in favor of the Otterbots.

A center line drive by Stephenson brought two players home, pushing the Otterbots into the lead at 8-6. 

Bristol remained scoreless in the eighth and the Otterbots sent another runner home at the bottom of the inning to achieve the final score of 9-6. 

Round two

The Bristol State Liners took the lead in the sixth inning in the second game at defeating the Otterbots 6-4 on their home turf.

The Bots earned a run Thursday in the third, but it was mostly a string of zeroes on the scoreboard until the sixth inning, when the State Liners kept the bases loaded and earned five runs. 

Seemingly concerned about maintaining their lead after the Bots returned fire with two runs, the State Liners changed pitchers mid-inning, putting in Eza Gustafson. The State Liners switched pitchers again in the bottom of the eighth after a few Bots were walked and bases were loaded. A strikeout by the Otterbots Luke Stephenson quelled any hopes of sending those runners home and ended the inning. 

The Otterbots scored another run in the bottom of the seventh, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Bristol, which cinched its victory with another run in the eighth.

River Turtles

The Otterbots traveled to Calfee Park in Pulaski on June 10 and 11 to take on the River Turtles. The Turtles defeated the Bots both nights, 7-3 and 6-4. 

Star-Tribune Editor Diana McFarland contributed to this report. 

Staff Writer

Zach McKnight joined the Star-Tribune from Wadsworth, Ohio, as a staff writer. Zach earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University. Zach was also awarded 3rd place in Public Safety writing by the Virginia Press Association for 2021.

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