Bulldogs send Rangers home in district tourney

Published 1:51 pm Wednesday, May 11, 2022

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JONESBOROUGH – After both losing their opening games in the TSSAA Class 1A District 1 Baseball Tournament on Monday evening, the Unaka Rangers and Hampton Bulldogs would square off against each other in an elimination game on Tuesday.

Things started off slowly with the Rangers being the first squad to take up the bats, not able to get anything going in the top of the first inning.

The same could not be said for the Bulldogs, however, as Hampton began the contest with a lead-off single by Chance Point. Point would later come around to score thanks to a fielders choice ground ball struck by Morgan Lyons to give the Bulldogs a one-run advantage.

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But the Rangers would stop the bleeding quickly, holding Hampton to only one as things progressed into the second frame.

In the bottom half of the second inning, it seemed as if Unaka would handle things quickly, amassing two outs without allowing a runner past first base. But with two outs in the half-inning, Hampton would finally get a runner in scoring position, with Brody Hicks on second base and Point standing on first.

After an attempted steal, Hicks would take third and advance home due to a high throw from the Unaka catcher, one that would get away from the left fielder bringing Point home across as well. Heading into the third, Hampton had increased their lead to that of 3-0.

In the bottom of the third frame, the Bulldogs struck again when Conor Jones roped a shot into the outfield to bring home the runner from second, Collin Morgan, and add one more to their total. But that wasn’t all as Jones would make his way around on a wild pitch to make it a 5-0 ball game heading into the fourth.

In the fourth, Hampton added to their total, when Lyons would send the ball off the bat on a line at Unaka pitcher Logan lewis, bringing home a runner in the process. Lyons then came around to score on a Caleb Royston single, increasing the lead to that of 7-0.

Lyons would bring home two more runners in the bottom half of the fifth on a line drive to center field, increasing the advantage to 9-0, before a well-caught line drive by Unaka would leave Lyons stranded and end the inning.

The sixth inning brought with it the end of the contest, as Josh Whitson would hit a line drive over third base to bring home McKinley Kuhn and increase the lead to 10-0, invoking a run-rule finish to the game.

The loss marks an end to the Rangers season, while Hampton will square off against North Greene once again on Wednesday evening, with a shot at the district championship on the line.