Rangers deflate Bulldogs, 11-1

By Ivan Sanders
STAR CORRESPONDENT
isanders@starhq.com

   If you are a baseball fan, how many times have you seen a team play like giant killers in taking a huge victory, only to see the same team turn around and have a lackluster performance its next outing?
   Hampton knows the feeling because the Bulldogs were looking to work their magic once more against Unaka, but the Rangers made Poodles out of the Bulldogs by handing them an 11-1 defeat at Hampton High School on Monday.
   "We were a completely different team today than we were against Elizabethton on Friday night," said Bulldog skipper Scotty Bunton. "I guess we thought we could just go through the motions and Unaka would lay down for us, but they have far too good a team to do that."
   Through three innings, the game was a close affair as Unaka was able to take a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Unaka was the home team for this contest even though it was played at Hampton.
   Cody Collins doubled and David Perry singled in the inning. Each runner came in to touch the dish for a Ranger score. Hampton sliced the lead in half in the top of the third.
   Daniel Carden reached on an error by the Ranger shortstop and Eric Swain kept up his torrid bat by ripping a double to plate Carden. The 'Dogs had trouble in the top of the fourth as Unaka retaliated in a big way.
   Thanks to three base on balls, a hit batsman and an error the Rangers increased their lead to 7-1. Chad Lewis took a Swain offering down the third-base line for a double in the inning to contribute to the Ranger spurt.
   "We've had people get on base thanks to our opponents, but couldn't get them in," said Unaka helmsman Mike Ensor. "Chad came up big with the stick today to make sure we wouldn't have that same outcome today."
   Hampton had the kind of day that would make a coach pull what hair he had left out. Sending three batters to the dish twice in the game and only four batters the rest of the way is no way to mount an offensive threat.
   Unaka's winning pitcher Ryan Bowers made sure that the day was one that would drive any 'Dog mad. The Ranger hurler kept the ball in the strike zone all day and allowed his defense to play behind him.
   After holding Hampton scoreless in the top of the fifth, the Rangers once again took advantage of the 'Dogs generosity by recording four more runs in the frame to take the 10-run rule victory.
   Using two base on balls, another hit batsman and two errors on the Bulldog infield, Unaka made the most out of its opportunities in taking the victory.
   "Our guys didn't execute plays in the field and our pitcher was unable to get the ball over the plate," stated Bunton. "Having Josh Moss out sick at shortstop probably didn't help much either because the guys really feed off him."
   The Rangers now prepare to play in the Crockett Invitational this coming week, and their head coach feels they are peeking at the right time.
   Said Ensor: "We played great defense today. Lewis had an outstanding day at third with I don't know how many runners thrown out at first. In the last four games we have hit the ball really well and our defense has just been outstanding. We're looking real good at the right time."
   Lewis finished the day 2-for-2 at the plate, with the Rangers also picking up hits from Rusty Chambers, Ben Cole, Cody Collins and David Perry.
   Besides the double from Swain, Hampton received a base knock from Brad Hodge.
   Summing up his teams performance, Bunton added: "We have to do a better job at coming ready to play every game. We are not a good enough team to think anyone is going to lay down for us."