BY WAYNE PHILLIPS
SPORTS EDITOR EMERITUS
One thing that seems almost certain every year that the Appalachian League season rolls around is that the Elizabethton Twins will be in the hunt for the West Division title.
It looks like 2013 will be no different.
The Twins used three pitchers to limit the Greeneville Astros to only five hits, while pounding out 14 themselves on their way to a 7-2 cakewalk over the home team Monday night at Pioneer Park.
It could have been much worse. Elizabethton left 15 runners stranded on the base paths during the course of the game.
Meanwhile, the Astros had trouble getting any runners aboard at all. The home crowd of just under 1,000 fans had very little to cheer about, except when Darwin Rivera cranked the team's first home run of the season in the bottom of the seventh inning, a towering, two-run shot to left that accounted for all the scoring on the night for Greeneville.
Randy Rosario got the pitching win for Elizabethton, going the first five innings and had the Astros eating out of his hand. He gave up only two base hits, struck out three and walked only one, the lead-off hitter in the game for Greeneville.
Jack Mayfield reached on the lead-off walk and it appeared the home team was going to be in good shape as Marc Wik laid down a perfect bunt toward third that not only advanced the runner but allowed Wik to reach first with a base hit.
But Bobby Borchering hit into a double play and Rivera hit a fly ball to right as Rosario got out of the early jam. Rosario retired nine straight hitters before Borchering connected for a one-out single in the fourth, then was promptly rubbed out on a ground ball double play off the bat of Rivera.
Jordan Mills, a 6-5 southpaw from Shingle Springs, Calif., took the mound loss for Greeneville, but gave up only one unearned run in his two innings of work.
The Twins manufactured a run in the second when Jacob Proctor reached on an error by third baseman Rivera, his first of three fielding miscues on the night. Bo Altobelli singled and Ryan Walker walked to load the sacks. Proctor scored on a passed ball by catcher Alfredo Gonzalez that rolled to the bricks behind home plate.
Mills got out of more trouble with a strikeout and a pop to the outfield.
Christian Garcia went the next three frames for Greeneville and gave up a solo run in each the fourth and fifth innings as Elizabethton went up 3-0. Proctor scored from third in the fourth frame when Tanner Vavra dropped down a squeeze bunt with two outs and legged it out. In the fifth, Stuart Turner was hit by a pitch and scored from first on a line drive double to left by Romy Jimenez.
The Twins put the game on ice with a four-run rally in the sixth off Greeneville's Gerardo Ramirez, who gave up four earned runs and five hits in his one inning of work.
The big blow was a two-run double by Dereck Rodriguez and a triple to center by Bryan Harr that plated another run.
That 7-0 advantage was plenty for the Twins. Greeneville got their two runs in the seventh off reliever Andre Martinez. Borchering singled to left and Rivera uncorked the long drive over the left field wall.
Vavra, Rodriguez, Turner, Jimenez and Altobelli each had two hits for the winners. Rivera's homer and double led Greeneville while Borchering also had two hits.
The Twins improve to 4-1 on the year while the Astros drop their third straight and fall to 1-4. The teams close out the three-game series tonight at 7 p.m. at Pioneer Park. The Kingsport Mets then come in for a three-game set beginning on Wednesday.