Clutch hitting, dominant pitching net win for Axmen in season finale


ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. – The 2023 Appalachian League season is in the books, and the 2022 champions of the league ended the season on a high note, defeating the Elizabethton River Riders, 2-1, completing the series sweep.

Kingsport (23-22) fell behind early as starter Maddox Burkitt gave up a run in the second inning when Xavier Cintron singled home Trey Fenderson. It was also a no-fly zone in right field early as Matty Wright robbed two Axmen of extra-base hits.

Kingsport’s dominant pitching performance kept the game close as they used six arms to rack up eighteen strikeouts. Burkitt fanned five while Caleb Anderson struck out five over two innings. Dominik Ramil had one strikeout in his lone inning of work before Will Shelton fanned three. Finally, D.B. Ellison and Jake Timbes each struck out two in their innings.

The clutch hit for Kingsport came in the seventh. Cole Swift singled to left off the glove of the Elizabethton shortstop Peyton Basler, scoring Mike Mancini and Deniel Ortiz to give Kingsport the lead.

In 2022, Elizabethton collected a walk-off to end the season and it looked like the same could happen as Elizabethton got two runners on in the bottom of the ninth off two Kingsport fielding errors. However, Timbes came back with a flyout and one final strikeout to end things.

Kingsport finishes one game above .500, which was good for second place in the Appalachian League West Division.

The 2023 season is over for Kingsport, but Burlington will travel to Johnson City for the championship game Wednesday, with first pitch slated for 7 p.m.