Rangers walk over Rebels

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR CORRESPONDENT

   JONESBOROUGH-The Unaka Rangers were in a battle early, but silenced their opposition at David Crockett.
   Led by the strong arm of sophomore Randy Swearingen and a plemoth of runs when they needed them most, Ranger-Ball continued their winning ways Wednesday afternoon with a dominant 13-3 win over the South Greene Rebels (8-3) in five innings at the Crockett section of the Washington County Classic.
   "We did the things we needed to do," said Unaka Coach Mike Ensor. "We were patient at the plate and didn't swing at a lot of bad pitches.
   "Their kid (John Bishop) struggled one inning and walked a few," he said, "But we did what a decent team has to do and following walks, we hit the baseball hard. If you do that good things will happen.
   "Our pitching kind of fell apart in the middle innings and we couldn't find the strike zone," said South Greene coach Frank Rogers. "It's hard to defend a walk and other than that, we made a few errors and they scored. We just didn't have a good game."
   South Greene opened up with two quick runs after two consecutive errors from the Ranger defense. Ryan Humphreys capitolized with a two-run single scoring John Bishop and Ryan Ward to take a 2-0 lead.
   Unaka quickly got two outs on them in their first offensive frame, before a Chad Lewis walk set up a 360-foot triple almost clearing the centerfield wall from Rusty Chambers to battle within a run.
   Swearingen stepped up with two strikeouts in the second inning to swipe the slate for the Rangers.
   Swearingen walked to open their second offensive effort, scoring after Chris Arnold hit into a double play to tie the contest at two all.
   South Greene had enough and put their offense to work with a hit and two stolen bases from Ryan Ward. Ward crossed the plate again after Nathaniel Green singled, taking a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the third.
   Unaka took the blow, then quickly swept the Rebels away.
   With an immediate two outs in the bottom of the third, Unaka took advantage of a Brent Huskins single and a John Bishop Walk-a-thon scoring two in the frame.
   Thomas Guess stepped up to the plate and delivered a smashing two-run double for the Rangers. Tee Blevins sent a errored shot past the shortstop scoring two runs, and crossed the plate after a Chambers double, giving Unaka a 9-3 lead.
   South Greene got singles from Ryan Broyles and Michael Shelton to open the fourth inning, but strong defense prevented another change of the scoreboard.
   The Rangers went four and out during the fourth inning as Chris Shuffler took the mound.
   The Rebels couldn't get anything but a hit player in the fifth and Unaka took took the gift and sprinted.
   Guess, Blevins and Lewis got singles for Unaka, setting up a Rusty Chambers RBI hit. Brent Huskins blasted another shot scoring Blevins and Lewis, allowing Unaka the chance to win.
   With a quick pitching change to Kevin Donahue, the reserve overthrew Randy Swearingen as a storming Rusty Chambers glided across the plate to take the 13-3 victory on Crockett turf.
   Said Rogers: "We've played pretty good baseball up until the last week and we haven't been able to catch a baseball. Hopefully, we can pick things up before we begin our district play next week."
   Swearingen had six strikeouts in his five innings for Unaka, earning another win on the mound this season. Bishop took the loss for South Greene.
   "I thought Randy pitched a real good ballgame," Ensor said. "I thought we played pretty good in the field. I think we should've shut them out, it should've been 9-0, bur early we dropped easy fly balls.
   "It seemed like everything we did was unearned," he said. "Last year, when we did those things we would've folded and wound up getting drilled. But we settled down and did the things we were supposed to do and played a pretty good game."
   Chambers led Unaka with a three of four outing and three RBI's, while Brent Huskins and Thomas Guess went two of four with two ribbies a piece.
   Unaka plays Morristown West on Friday in Jonesborough.