It was fitting that to name an Appalachian League champion, it would take extra innings. All three games were decided in the bottom of an extra inning and the final was no different (and there was yet another delayed start). Elizabethton won the Appy League title with a 10-6 victory over Burlington in 12 innings.
Handing off a 6-1 lead to your closer in the bottom of the 9th inning should send your team to a victory, right? Not tonight for Burlington. John Walter entered the game with a five-run lead, but couldn’t close out Elizabethton. He walked the first two batters he faced, but then recorded the next two outs without allowing a run to score.
Then the wheels fell off.
Walter walked the next hitter and hit the next to drive in a run. A wild pitch made the score 6-3 with Adam Walker at the plate. Walker was tied for the Appy League lead in homeruns with 14. He fittingly belted a three-run homerun to tie the game at 6-6.
That sent the game to extra innings.
Both teams had runners on base but could not capitalize. Until the bottom of the 12th inning.
Julio Morales entered in relief in the bottom of the 12th inning for the Royals and recorded the first out. However he walked the next batter before striking out the next. Then he walked another and a wild pitch left first base open. So Morales walked the next hitter to load the bases with two outs. DJ Hicks made sure that the game would go no further, as he hit a full count, two outs grand slam to set off the victory celebration in front of the hometown fans.
Burlington scored their six runs across two innings. In the 4th inning, they scored four runs and only recorded one hit. Three walks, a single, two passed balls, two errors, and a wild pitch helped the Royals score. In the 8th inning, Bubba Starling (3-for-6) led off with a solo homerun. Two batters later, Mark Threlkeld (2-for-5) hit a solo homerun.
It was a rough night all around for the Royals, even though they were in the game until the very end. They collected ten hits, but went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. They struck out 17 times. The Royals pitchers walked 12 batters (compared to 18 strikeouts). They also gave up two BIG homeruns accounting for seven of the Twins ten runs. The defense committed three errors.