Bulldogs overcome by Devils

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR STAFF
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   Eleven hits and eleven runs were too much to overcome for the Hampton Bulldog baseball team.
   In its home stand against an always solid Unicoi County team, Hampton had a hard time adjusting to the Blue Devil pitching and couldn't capitalize with runners on base.
   The Devils rode a six-strikeout performance from starting pitcher Stephen Thomas, who only allowed two hits in his five innings of work, with backing bats sealing an 11-1 Watauga Conference victory.
   "I thought Stephen Thomas, our starting pitcher, came out and did a good job," said Unicoi County coach Chris Bogart. "He threw five good innings. We made a couple of mistakes in the infield, but got in there and made plays when they counted, and did what we needed to do. I felt pretty good about that.
   "We got some big hits and got guys on base early," he said. "I thought that was key."
   The Devils only had one scoreless inning in the fourth.
   Hampton had a solid pitching performance from Adam Miller, but couldn't capitalize in the field.
   "They got a bloop that fell and we missed a few balls," said Hampton coach Scotty Bunton. "Little things like that you have to do against a quality team. You're not going to be able to do that and play with them. They'll take advantage of it."
   Unicoi opened the game with a double from Matt White, who scored on a sacrifice RBI from Drew Anders.
   The 'Dogs got the bases loaded after Justin Waycaster was hit by a pitch, Adam Miller advanced on a fielder's choice and Brandon Barnett walked, but couldn't get any runs across the plate.
   The Devils made it tough during the next two innings with solid defense and runs on the offensive side.
   Cody Scott and Dusty Tolley scored on a Luke Wakewander double in the second inning, while Anders offered a solo shot towards left field in the third to give Unicoi a 4-0 lead.
   Hampton held the Devils at bay in the fourth inning and got its lone run after Dustin Crumley walked and advanced on a passed ball.
   Unicoi County came alive in the fifth and sixth innings with seven combined runs to close the game early.
   Anders and Tim Peterson scored on Ryan Corn's two-run single in the fifth. Corn also came across the plate on a wild pitch.
   Scott Calloway and White scored on RBI singles from Anders and Brit Peterson, respectively, to start the sixth. Anders and Peterson scored on a two-run double from Corn.
   Hampton got its only hits from a Gene Sanchez single in the fourth and a Miller double in the fifth.
   "We had people in scoring position. If we get hits, it's a different thing," said Bunton. "I thought we were fully in the game for a long time. Everything we did that we weren't supposed to do, they scored on."
   The Blue Devils continue their campaign today at home against Elizabethton. Bogart is pleased with his team this year, as it returns many of its players from last season.
   "I feel like we're very talented this year," the Devil coach said. "Most of these guys played last year. It's an experienced bunch, even though there are a lot of juniors in the field. All of our pitchers are back. We're a year older, stronger and wiser, and I think that makes a big difference."