Unaka wins seesaw battle with Junior Bucs

Published 9:41 pm Saturday, May 7, 2016

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GREENEVILLE – On Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Park on the campus of Tusculum College the Unaka Rangers pitchers were handing out walks like bank teller’s give out lollipops. The Rangers had their hitting shoes on for this one however, rapping out a dozen hits and scored a 9-7 win over University High in the Watauga Valley Conference tournament.

The Rangers pitchers John Ramsey and Blake King each walked four Bucs hitters which contributed to a few big innings for the Buccaneers. The Rangers (22-6) jumped out to a 4-1 lead after two innings, scoring one run in the first on an infield hit by catcher and leadoff hitter Austin Wilson.

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Abram Hill sacrificed Wilson to second and when Wilson saw Bucs third baseman Trever Taylor not covering the bag he cruised into third without a throw. A wild pitch from Bucs starter Jakob Hare brought home Wilson.

“It was a great effort and I couldn’t be any more proud of these guys,” Wilson said. “It was just there (the base) and I took it. Our mindset was to keep putting the pressure on and keep doing what we been doing.”

The Bucs (11-14) took advantage of an infield hit a walk and a wild pitch to tie the game at 1-1 in the second before Unaka jumped on Hare for three runs in the last of the second. Dakota Gallimore singled and Isaac Hill tripled him home and Wilson followed with an RBI base knock for a 3-1 Rangers lead.

An error on the UH catcher brought another run home for the Rangers. First baseman Cas Blevins doubled to open the UH third and after moving to third on a ground out, Hare walked to put Bucs runners at the corners.

One out later Esau Byrd singled home Blevins and Nick Walley walked to load the bases. Jake Oligney then hit a topper to first that Bryson Street bobbled for an error that scored two runs, but Hill made a saving throw to third to cut down the runner there and end the threat.

“I thought that was a big play,” Rangers head coach Tee Blevins said. “That was a big momentum swing on that play. That big inning was a blow, and the boys could have folded. (UH) even took a two run lead and they could have folded their tents and looked at Monday, but they kept fighting. I though Blake did a good job of competing on the mound after he came in.”

That came in the fourth when Ramsey walked Taylor to open the inning. Harry Stancil sacrificed Taylor to second and Blevins walked. One out later Hare delivered an RBI single and with runners at the corners King was charged with a balk that allowed Blevins to come home and stake the Bucs to a 6-4 lead.

Unaka made it a 6-5 game at the end of the fourth and in the fifth Gallimore reached on an infield error and one out later Austin King delivered a clutch two out RBI hit that plated him and a bases loaded hit from Austin Hill brought home two more as the Rangers took an 8-6 lead.

“We had five errors in the field tonight,” said Bucs head coach Josh Petty. “We didn’t make enough plays to win tonight, and that’s about it.”

Hare knocked in a run for the Bucs in the top of the sixth but Gallimore answered with one of his own in the last of the inning setting up the seventh for a bit of drama. King retired the first two Bucs hitters by walked Oligney to bring the tying run to the plate.

Taylor sent a one hopper back to the mound where King pounced and fired to first to give the Rangers the win.

“We had everyone hitting tonight,” Blevins said. “Austin King had a big RBI and Isaac Hill’s triple was huge from our ninth hitter. I thought John Ramsey kept us in it and it was just a gut feeling to bring in Blake. I think he could have gone further, but he will be fresh for Monday.”

Watauga Valley Conference baseball tournament

Pioneer Park at Tusculum College

Game Three

Unaka 9-7

University High 013 201 0 – 7 7 5

Unaka 130 131 x – 9 12 3

W – B. King L – Byrd

LOB – UH 7, U 9. 3B – I. Hill. 2B – Blevins.