Junior Bucs top Unaka

By Matt Hill

   JOHNSON CITY -- Unaka head coach Mike Ensor may want to forget Friday's contest with University High, but he will probably remember it all too well for a long time.
   The Rangers had a rough go of it in a 13-6 loss to the Junior Bucs at Mooney Field.
   Ensor was mostly upset with the defense, as the Rangers committed six errors in the contest.
   Freshman Randy Swearingen was the starting pitcher for Unaka, and Ensor didn't think the loss was his fault.
   "Randy Swearingen pitched a plenty good enough ball game to win," Ensor said. "We're kicking it all over the field, and we're making errors. We're not going to win until we get it ironed out.
   The Rangers out-hit the Junior Bucs in the contest, the second conference game in a row that Unaka has out-hit its opponent and lost.
   "We're the most talented team in this conference," Ensor said. "We bang out 12 hits today, they get about eight. That's two games in a row that we've gotten beat in conference play where we've out-hit our opponents because we can't make a play in the field. And that's not going to change until our kids start concentrating, and getting focused and staying focused."
   The Rangers held a 4-1 lead going into the bottom of the third before the Junior Bucs poured in six runs on only two hits to go ahead 7-4.
   The bottom of the sixth was University High's other big inning, as the Junior Bucs increased their 9-6 advantage with four runs in the inning.
   Again, University High had only two hits in the frame.
   University High head coach Joe Borden thought just putting the ball in play made Unaka commit the errors.
   "When you put the ball in play, there is always a chance that the other team is going to boot it," Borden said. "But at least what you're doing is forcing them to make the play. If you force them to make the play, you've done what you're supposed to do.
   The hits University High did get came at big times to drive in runs.
   "Alex Graves, Andy Nelson and Josh Fields all three came in with big hits at key moments that drove in runs," Borden said. "Particularly early when we were down 4-0, then we got one back and got some timely hitting got in those others, and then all of a sudden the gates just blew open because we kept putting the ball in play."
   Drew Harrell helped shut the Rangers down at the end of the game after starting the contest as a catcher. Harrell didn't let it show that he had just caught the whole game, as he struck out four batters in the final two innings.
   Borden was very pleased with Harrell and starting picher Ben Shew in this contest.
   "We're really proud of Drew," Borden said. "He's come of age in the last two years here, and is just an outstanding baseball player. But Ben Shew also pitched a great, great game. He was very high in the pitch count, so we came on with Drew there in that sixth inning when they started to hit him a little bit after one out just to make sure. Then we put them away."
   David Perry had an outstanding day for the Rangers at the plate, as he finished with three hits. Ben Cole and Aaron Dugger had two hits each to add to the Unaka attack.
   Nelson poured in three hits to top University High, while Harrell had two hits for the Junior Bucs.