Unicoi Little League team tops Virginia to advance in the Southeast Regional

Published 8:24 am Wednesday, July 26, 2023

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By C.Y. Peters
Unicoi Little League team wins second game in the Southeast Regional topping Virginia 5-0.
In the first inning, Abigail Peterson of Unicoi would single up the middle with two outs but was left on base.  In the bottom of the first, Virginia would get two runners on base and both would be stranded without a score thanks to first baseman Peterson who had two putouts in the inning.
     In the top of the second Kia Randall of Virginia would strike out four Tennessee batters, but the result was a 1-0 lead for Tennessee. After reaching base on a strikeout, Oliva Jones would score on a hit by Mallory Nuckles that was juggled by the center fielder giving Jones the chance to put Tennessee up 1-0 midway through the first inning.
     Virginia started a rally in the top of the second with a lead-off bunt and on the first pitch, Catherine steals second.  She would take third on a 6-3 play, but Gobble was able to strike out two batters in the second to leave Catherine stranded at third.
     Lucy Jo Linville’s first hit of the Southeast Regional went up the middle, mishandled by the center fielder and rolled to the fence for an inside-the-park homerun with two outs in the third inning.  Gobble was robbed of a base hit with a powerful hit, but the shortstop made a great catch for the out.  For Virginia’s lead-off batter Clara Hambrick hit a fly ball to right field that landed on the chalk for a hit, but that was all they could get and after three innings, Tennessee led 2-0.
     Virginia’s Randall reached base on an error in the bottom of the fourth, but two in-field grounders and a Gobble strike-out would keep Virginia off the scoreboard and 0 for 4 with runs in scoring position on the day.
     In the top of the fifth, Unicoi’s Deanna Gill belts one to right field for a single, steals second and on the next pitch scores on a triple by Ayla Horney.  Horney would score on a sacrifice by Mallory Nuckles.  Van Tassell was robbed of a hit by a great play at third and Ava Hanson collected Tennessee’s seventh hit of the day. Tennessee now leads 4-0 mid-way through the fifth.
     The lead-off batter gets on for Virginia but is thrown out trying to steal second by catcher Knuckles.  The next batter flies out and the final batter of the inning Bhula grounds back to Gobble. Going into the final inning,  Tennessee holds a 4-0 lead
      Linville almost hit her second homer, sending a fastball up the middle this time again to the fence for a triple.  Gobble added to the Tennessee lead with a sacrifice fly to bring in Linville.  Abby Peterson collected her third hit of the game and fourth of the Southeast Regional.  Tennessee now leads 5-0 going into Virginia’s final at-bats.
    The final inning was like the rest, Virginia got a runner on, but the rest were easy outs for Tennessee.  Gobble picks up her second win and has allowed only one run in the Southeast Regional. Tennessee will face North Carolina on Thursday at 1 pm in the winners’ bracket final.

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