Happy Valley gets past Unaka

By Wes Holtsclaw

   The Unaka Rangers stepped onto Cannon-Gouge Field for their first game since the end of basketball season, and gave Happy Valley all they could want. However, the Warriors would do what was needed to win, taking the 13-10 victory Friday afternoon.
   "We needed a close game and got one," said Warrior coach Greg Hyder. "We took leads for granted and let them back in. Tim Whaley and Ryan Toney did a good job today. Toney grew up today and closed it for us. And our bunting game was great, we got a bunch down.
   "Unaka put up a war, it's a battle every time you play them. When they get seasoned, they'll be tough. I'm glad things worked out for us today."
   Tim Whaley opened the game as pitcher for Happy Valley and got through the first three Unaka batters in the first inning.
   Happy Valley shook up Unaka pitcher Ryan Bowers early in their frame, placing three batters on base early for Dan Back, who knocked in three RBIs with a double. Bowers struck out the final two batters for the Warriors, who held a 3-0 lead after one.
   The second inning was a pitching dual, as both teams went scoreless.
   Thomas Guess got the first hit for the Rangers, but Unaka would go down four batters later.
   Happy Valley would fall to outstanding Ranger defense, as Unaka battled through four batters keeping the 3-0 score.
   The Rangers got things going at the top of the third, as Jeremy McCann brought David Perry in for Unaka's first score.
   Aaron Dugger followed that up with an RBI double, and was brought in himself by a Terry Tabor single.
   The Tribe came right back as Shawn Baer got on base with a double, coming in from a Cody Cannon play. Cannon would score after a Dusty Hendrix single, giving Happy Valley the 5-3 lead after the third.
   Unaka would come back as David Perry would score Bowers closing the gap to two runs. Happy Valley would soon explode.
   Ranger defense provided to quick outs against Happy Valley early in the fame, but the Warriors weren't out.
   Cannon would score after a Dan Back single, while Back would score on four straight walks. When Dusty Hendrix would bring in two RBIs, falling short as he was thrown out at second to end the inning at 9-1.
   The Rangers ran hard at the Warriors in the fifth inning behind McCann, Ben Cole, Tabor, and Rusty Chambers. McCann got on base early for Unaka and would later steal home after a thrown ball hit an official.
   Chambers singled in Cole, when David Perry lined a one-bagger for two RBIs, bringing Unaka within one run.
   The bottom of the fifth was hard times for Unaka, as the Warriors grabbed two quick scores on errors. Baer and Cannon would score when Chambers came in as the new pitcher for Unaka.
   Chambers, with the help of two consecutive plays from Aaron Dugger and a grab from Cole, took the Rangers out of the inning.
   Dugger and Cole scored the Rangers' only runs in the inning, closing the gap at 13-10. However, the game would be called as sunlight was diminished from Warrior Hill, giving Happy Valley the victory.
   "We did well since we just got them back yesterday," said Unaka coach Mike Ensor. "Dugger, Chambers and Lewis were at practice yesterday. Norm Arnold and Cole missed half of practice since they came home.
   "They battled for all they were worth, I can't say enough but I'm proud of them. We gave up some runs in the first and did a few things here and there. If we get those things eliminated, we'll be a pretty good team."
   Happy Valley (3-0, 0-0) plays a tough upcoming week, beginning Monday against University High, before bouncing into conference play against Sullivan Central and Unicoi County.
   Said Hyder: "We're battling and scoring runs right now, but we'll have to play defense in the conference."
   Unaka (0-1, 0-0) will ease into a tough schedule next week, allowing the returning members to warm up for conference play.
   Happy Valley, 13-10
   Unaka 003 142 -- 10
   Happy Valley 302 44X -- 13
   WP--Whaley. LP--Cook.