Warriors rally past Rangers in the rain

Published 9:50 am Monday, March 18, 2019

JOHNSON CITY – With Cannon-Gouge Park unplayable the Happy Valley Warriors will truly be road “warriors” this season, playing a home game on Thursday at Cardinal Park in Johnson City where they hosted the Unaka Rangers.

When the rain and wind finally subsided, the Warriors (2-1) had stung the Rangers with a seven-run bottom of the sixth and took an 11-6 victory.

“I thought we did a real good job of plate discipline and working some counts,” Warriors manager Brad Hill said. “John Ramsey is one of the better pitchers we’ll see all year, and we were able to wait him out – make him throw strikes and work some counts against him – and get to their bullpen. We were able to take advantage of some opportunities early and came up with some big hits at the end.”

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Plate discipline was a must on this evening as a total of 19 walks were issued and many of those free passes came around to score. Unaka (0-4) took an early 1-0 lead when senior first baseman Bryson Street ripped an RBI single to plate Ramsey who had walked.

The Warriors Bart Wilson delivered an RBI hit in the last of the first and made it a 1-1 game. Through three innings HV scored single runs in each and led 3-2 after three innings. Street had a second RBI hit for Unaka and Caden Ward had a sacrifice fly RBI in the third for HV.

Unaka erupted for four runs in the top of the fourth as lefty reliever Eli Reece issued five walks and a wild pitch that saw Unaka tie the game and have the bases loaded when Eli Ayers came on to face Ramsey who delivered an RBI infield hit. Catcher Daniel Ensor also had a run-scoring hit in the stanza as the Rangers led 6-3.

HV made it 6-4 in the last of the fifth against Rangers reliever Street with catcher Zach Workman delivering an RBI double. Ramsey retired Andrew Little to open the inning, but had reached his pitch count and was relieved by Street.

That’s when the skies opened up with high winds and driving rain as the teams went into the sixth. Street was unable to find the plate consistently issuing four walks, and a two-run double by Wilson who finished with three runs batted in. Two more runs came across on an outfield error and the damage was done.

Ayers went three and two-thirds innings of relief giving up four hits while striking out six and walking just one. He did not surrender a run and Hill said of his efforts, “He really pounded the zone, and he has done that in both outings. Nothing really fazes him and he is a leader and he battled out there in his three innings of work.”

For Unaka, Ramsey pitched 4.1 innings giving up two hits while walking four and striking out eight.

“John Boy threw well today, but didn’t have his best stuff,” said Unaka manager Tee Blevins. “We had a 6-3 lead and he battled, but it came down to his pitch count and we wanted to give Bryson a little work. We’ve had four tough games this week with pitch counts and we have to throw strikes.”

Happy Valley 11-6

Unaka 101 400 0 – 6 8 2

Happy Valley 111 017 x – 11 4 0

W – Ayers L – Street