Class A Baseball Sectional: Rams top Rangers,7-1

Published 10:09 pm Friday, May 20, 2016

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KNOXVILLE—The rain came down nonstop Friday as the Unaka Rangers and the Grace Christian Rams battled it out for seven innings during their Class A Sectional showdown.
In the end, it would be the Rams who found a way to adjust to the wetness as they ran out to a 7-1 victory.
The loss brought the Rangers’ season to an end, a season that saw Unaka finish up with a 25-8 record, a conference title, and a district tournament title.
“Before the season we were predicted to finish in fifth,” Unaka head coach Tee Blevins said. “We finished as conference champs, district champs, and region runner-ups. We came here and took on the defending state champs and played them close for four innings. We never game up, and I am proud of them.”
For the first three innings the game stayed scoreless, with the Rangers getting themselves out of some tough spots. In the first inning, the Rams were able to get the bases loaded, but the Rangers held Grace off the boards with Unaka’s shortstop Blake King scooping up a ground and throwing to second for the forced out to get his team out of the innings.
In the bottom of the second, the Rams, with one out, had runners at second and first. Grace’ Noah Gent smacked a hard line drive that could have been trouble, but Blake King made a big catch to keep the Rams at bay. Rangers pitcher Abram Hill stuck out Ross Ledford to end the inning.
The third inning saw the Rangers again make big plays to hold off the Rams. One those big plays came when Unaka senior catcher Austin Wilson picked off Grace’ Justin Shaw at second. Blake also made another big catch in the frame to help the Rangers’ cause.
In the top of the fourth, the Rangers almost got on the scoreboard, with Blake King coming around second and third off a hit from Dakota Gallimore, who had smacked a single to right field. However, Grace right fielder Cody Estep launched the ball home to catcher Hayden Coffman who collided with King for the out.
The Rams didn’t strike until the bottom of the fourth, when they racked up two runs, with Rams’ Gent and Hunter Ross both picking up RBIs in the inning.
Grace picked up two more runs in the fifth to take a 4-0 lead before bringing out the heavy bats in the sixth frame. The Rams racked three run in the sixth inning, which was highlighted by an RBI triple from both Grace’ Micah Wheeler and Taylor Lawson.
The Rangers didn’t leave without getting a run on the board. Fighting to stay in the game, the Rangers loaded up the bases in the top of the seventh. Unaka was able to net courtesy runner Davy Ensor, who came home off an error to make the 7-1.
For Unaka seniors Austin Wilson, Austin King, and Abram Hill, it was their last game playing in the Rangers’ maroon. Blevins said that the seniors have played a huge role on the team.
“Our program has been down the past few years, and our seniors have set the foundation for the young boys,” Blevins said. “The seniors have got the program back to where it was, and now it is the young guys’ job to keep it there.”

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