Warriors thwart Rangers

By Wes Holtsclaw

   It simply wasn't the Unaka Rangers' day.
   Backed behind powerful pitcher Michael Holmes, the Happy Valley Warriors scored runs in more styles than you could find designer wardrobes on the New York runway as the Warriors toppled Unaka 10-2 at Cannon-Gouge Park.
   "We started hitting it a little bit," said Warrior frontman Greg Hyder. "We put the ball in play and made things happen. We got the opportunity to score some runs and take a lead.
   "Our pitcher (Holmes) got a little confidence out there and did a heck of a job. Britton Brumitt threw a heck of a game yesterday against Elizabethton, and we just gotta feel like we can win with someone other than Britton. Michael showed that today, and it was huge for him."
   With the win Saturday afternoon, the Warriors extended their win streak to four games.
   "We had three tough games in a row, and all three times we jumped on them and got ahead and we let up. So we've really been focusing on getting up, hanging in there, and putting things away."
   "We got them down into a hole and they couldn't fight out of it. It's a good win, Unaka is a good, well-coached ballclub. But I think we took the sting out of them kind of early today."
   Said Ranger skipper Mike Ensor: "It was just all-around a bad day at the ballpark. We just had a lot of distractions, let's just leave it at that."
   "We just had no focus at all. That's something I've got to do a better job if as a coach, not letting that get to our kids -- and we will."
   "I say that, but we jumped out 2-1. I thought we looked good in the first inning, but we just go to fall apart and went to pieces."
   Happy Valley took the first at-bats, and got a decent start going. Lamar Rollins opened up with a single for the Tribe, and was sent in by Shaun Baer to give the Warriors the 1-0 lead.
   The Rangers came back behind a Jeremy McCann single and a Rusty Chambers walk, when Randy Swearingen would single in the two, giving Unaka the 2-1 lead after the first.
   From there, Unaka's Ben Cole found himself in a pickle on the mound as the bases were loaded within the first three at bats.
   A wild pitch gave Daniel Bach a stolen run, then a flyball from Cody Whitlock ended up with a collision between Chambers and Ryan Bowers, allowing Tim Whaley and Forrest Holt to take the go-ahead scores. Happy Valley led 4-2.
   The Rangers would sit down pretty quick with their next at bat, allowing Happy Valley to take a chance at more scores. But the Warriors were held in their path by a tough Unaka defense.
   The Warriors came out in the fourth and got five quick runs. Only one, however, was an earned one as errors and some home-plate controversy helped Happy Valley take the 9-2 lead.
   There was several critical calls made by the home plate umpire, which was in dispute among some players, coaches, and fans.
   Amidst the confusion, the official served a strict warning to the crowd of the event.
   Said Ensor: "I don't know how much of a distraction that was, the little guy behind the plate. But I know it's a shame when there's only 14 games in the area today, and we get a junior high umpire for this type of ballgame."
   The Rangers hit their downspell, as the extracurricular activities within the game seemed to distract their playing.
   Happy Valley scored one more run, with Baer singling in Lamar Rollins for the 10-2 lead, which was where the game would end as superb defense from both squads took over.
   Holmes closed his day only allowing four hits, and sitting down eight. Cole took the loss for Unaka.
   McCann and Swearingen led the Rangers offensively, as both players had two hits on the afternoon, with Swearingen taking two RBIs.
   Rollins and Whitlock led the way for Happy Valley. Each provided the way for several Warrior runs.