Wild pitch sends Unaka to 3-2 win over ‘Dogs

Published 11:16 pm Monday, April 10, 2017

Sophomore phenom John Ramsey struck out 14 Hampton batters in seven innings and played a part in the Unaka Rangers winning a rally in the seventh.
The Rangers pushed a run across in the last of the frame to earn a hard fought 3-2 Watauga Valley Conference win over the Bulldogs at Claude Holsclaw Field.
“As many pitches, as he threw he still didn’t have his best stuff,” Rangers head coach Tee Blevins said. “Anything can happen in this game. You can be zero for 10 and then get a game winning hit with a little blooper. I thought Isaac Hill had a great game. He dropped down two bunts and beat them both out for hits. Without him doing that we aren’t in the position to win. These kids just love the game, and the majority of them are sophomores.”
Senior lefty Wyatt Lyons started for the ‘Dogs, and he was on his game with 11 strikeouts and just two walks. His last walk came in the seventh, and it was Ramsey who battled Lyons for ten pitches before taking ball four and putting Unaka runners on first and second with one out.
“I had been struggling at the plate all day,” Ramsey said. “Oh for three, and I was just trying to get on base. I knew he was high in his pitch count, so I wanted to make him work a little bit and get him out of there. Which we did.”
Blake King was strikeout victim number 11 for Lyons, bringing John Wesley Hardin to the dish. Davey Ensor led off the frame by reaching on an infield error, and Dakota Gallimore sacrificed him to second. Ramsey then battled Lyons and reached on ball four.
Hampton head coach Matt Hardin then went to his bullpen for left-hander Dalton Rouse who uncorked a wild pitch to move the Ranger runners up 90 feet. With count standing at 2-2 to Hardin, Rouse then bounced one up that handcuffed catcher Dalton Blair and Ensor raced home with the winning run.
Unaka got on the scoreboard in the last of the second when Blake King singled to lead things off, and John Wesley Hardin walked. Both runners moved up on a passed ball and one out later Hill dropped down a suicide squeeze bunt that saw King score from third and gave the Rangers (11-1, 4-1 WVC) a 1-0 lead.
Hampton (4-2 WVC) answered with two runs in the top of the third with Lane Potter getting a one-out single off Ramsey for the first Bulldog hit of the game. One out later Lyons ripped a double to leftfield plating Potter and Lyons moved to third on the relay throw to the plate, which was not in time.
Second baseman David Fleenor then singled to center to plate Lyons and stake the ‘Dogs to a 2-1 lead.
The Rangers looked to blow the game wide open in the fourth frame as Hardin, Bryson Street, and Hill each singled to load the bases with nobody out. Lyons bore down and retired Austin Beauprez on a fly ball to right and Justin Houghton on a fly ball to center.
Neither fly ball was deep enough to score on, but with Davey Ensor at the dish, Lyons let loose a wild pitch that allowed Hardin to scamper across with the tying run.
“I got my arm rested a bit this week,” Ramsey said. “I felt good, I rubbed it out and exercised it and pitched the way I am capable. It was an honor to go one-on one against Lyons. He is a great pitcher, he really is.”
The teams will trade venues today with Unaka visiting Hampton with game time set for 4:30 pm.

Unaka 3-2
Hampton 002 000 0 – 2 3 3
Unaka 010 100 1 – 3 6 1
W – Ramsey L – Lyons
LOB – H 3, U 7. 2B – Lyons

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