'Blazers cut loose late in game to subdue Rangers

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR CORRESPONDENT
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

ERWIN--Through the first five and two-third innings, Randy Swearingen owned the Daniel Boone Trailblazers.
Then, after an error and two straight shots to the center-field wall, the Unaka Rangers' defense simply fell apart as the Blazers took a 5-2 lead and eventually scored nine runs in the seventh inning to open the Unicoi County Baseball Classic with a 14-2 victory in a rainy mist.
"We played good enough to win today through five and two-third innings," said Unaka coach Mike Ensor. "But once everything snowballed it kind of took us down. We had the third out in center field, but Thomas (Guess) took a step down the hill and the ball skipped out of his glove. Next thing I know, we're down."
"We have been playing well," Ensor said. "Essentially, we're cruising in this one. Coach Dorsey and I cost us two runs early and we may have had a miscommunication there early. With a young team, you've got to get those things."
Swearingen struck out seven of the first eight batters he faced and only allowed one hit until Boone started slugging. He finished with 12 strikeouts through six innings in a losing effort.
Unaka opened with three hits from Thomas Guess, Tee Blevins and Chad Lewis. Blevins and Guess were both caught off guard in rundowns, forcing the Rangers into the dugout.
Unaka came back in the second inning with a walk to Swearingen and a Travis Pasquale single. Ryan Bowers and Guess followed up with an RBI single and sacrificed fly, respectively, to put two runs on the board.
The Rangers got singles in the third and fourth innings from Bowers and Rusty Chambers, but the squad couldn't get anything else going.
Into the sixth inning, Swearingen struck out the first two Blazers he faced before Stephen Jarrett sent a shot into center that was tipped from Thomas Guess' glove.
A single from Chris Clear set up a big two-run triple from Rodney Sells before Aaron Cox crushed a ball over the center-field fence with his two-run homer.
Caleb Cox followed with a single, scoring on an Erron Hancock double, giving Daniel Boone a 5-2 lead.
The Rangers opened with three walks in the sixth inning, but had all three base runners tossed out in the field. With Swearingen off the mound going into the seventh inning, the Blazers came alive, again.
Backed behind four errors and RBI singles from Brandon Kinnett, Aaron and Caleb Cox, Boone scored nine runs in the seventh inning, going through 14 batters to do so, taking a 14-2 lead.
The Rangers simply couldn't return the favor in their final round, falling prey to a double play.
Josh Hite took the win from the mound for Daniel Boone after taking over in the fifth inning, Brandon Kinnett came in during the latter part of the sixth inning and wound out with the save.
Kinnett went two for three with a double, a single and three RBIs, while Aaron Cox batted two of four with three RBIs after his home run. Ryan Bowers led Unaka with his two of two outing with an RBI.
Unaka meets up with Unicoi County in a 7:30 p.m. contest today in Erwin, before meeting Greeneville at 4:30 on Thursday. Happy Valley's tournament contest against Sullivan South was canceled due to the rainfall.
Added Ensor: "Unicoi County's not going to beat themselves. They're gonna hit it and we've got to execute and do what you're supposed to do. They are a fundamental squad and we're going to throw our freshman (Tee Blevins) on the mound. We'll see what comes out of it."