Unaka rips University High

By Tim Chambers
STAR STAFF
tchambers@starhq.com

   With a chilly breeze blowing all afternoon, the weather was more suited for flying kites than playing baseball, but that didn't seem to bother the Rangers, who were sky high the entire evening.
   Behind a gutty pitching performance from Daniel McInturff, Unaka ran its conference record to 3-0 with a 14-4 win over the University High at Claude Holsclaw Field. The Rangers ended the game in the sixth when Chambers sent a pitch over Highway 91 for a homerun to end the game by way of the 10-run mercy rule.
   "I was pleased with the way I threw but the guys gave me a ton of run support," said McInturff. "We made some errors but that comes from not being able to practice outside."
   "The weather has kept us indoors all of last week and our basketball players have only two outside workouts under their belts. We're starting to play much better as a team."
   McInturff gave Unaka fans his version of Randy Johnson in the first as the junior left-hander stuck out every batter in the inning.
   The Rangers scored four in the first after Cody Collins walked and move to third on a single by Tee Blevins. Good hustle from Chad Lewis accounted for an infield hit while Chambers' used his speed to slide past the tag of Morgan Woodacre at first for another, giving Unaka a 2-0 lead.
   Brent Huskins lined a solid single to right center for two RBIs and a 4-0 Ranger lead. Unaka added two in the second for a 6-0 margin aided by four base on balls and an error.
   University High closed the gap at 6-3 in the fourth, thanks to a three-run homer over the left-field wall by junior second baseman Ryan Collins, who was 1-for-2 on the day with a walk.
   Unaka wasted no time answereing in the fourth as Chambers started the inning with a walk. After stealing second Huskins added another RBI, extending the lead at 7-3.
   Two errors and a walk loaded the bases and the Rangers took full advantage of situation. Cody Collins was hit by a pitch, collecting an RBI while Blevins added two by lofting a single to right.
   After a walk to Lewis, Chambers was pegged in the behind stretching the margin at 12-3.
   University accounted for one unearned run in the fifth, thanks to three Ranger errors that resulted in one run. McInturff refused to give in, getting a fly ball and a ground out to end the inning.
   Unaka ended the game in the sixth when Lewis walked to set up the blast by Chambers. McIntuff went the distance, tossing a four-hitter, striking out six and walking only three.
   "Daniel (McInturff) pitched a great game today," stated Chambers. "Our defense cost us today, mainly myself, but we will correct that next practice."
   "We got to get our focus more on baseball but the basketball dinners and outings have been great." "We want to make another trip back down to Memphis and play for the state championship."
   Unaka had several offensive bright spots offensively, led by Chambers at 2-for-2 with four RBIs while reaching base safely five times. Tee Blevins had two hits and three RBIs, Huskins added two base knocks and three RBIs, and Tyler McCann added two singles.
   Chad Lewis was 1-for-2, reaching base four times while leadoff batter Colllins reached base for times by way of three walks and a hit batsman.
   "I was pleased with the way we hit the ball," stated Unaka head coach Mike Ensor. "On the down side we lost our concentration in the field. That resulted in a few errors, which we need to correct."
   "We played well the last three games against quality opponents in Erwin, Happy Valley and Rockwood. "I'm not into moral victories, but we can take the things we did well in those games and build on them.