Unaka rides McInturff no-hitter to rout of UH

By Tim Chambers

   JOHNSON CITY--So far the Unaka Ranger baseball season could be described much like that of a roller coaster ride -- up and down with some rough bumps along the way. Thursday evening at Mooney Field, the roller coaster turned Rolls-Royce.
   Behind a nifty no-hitter from Daniel McInturff, Unaka cruised past University High 10-0 Thursday afternoon and clinched at least a tie for the Watauga Valley Conference championship.
   McInturff was brilliant the entire day striking out six on the day. The junior left-hander was helped by the Ranger defense, which played errorless baseball the whole way.
   "I have been trying to stay focused," said McInturff. "Brent was super behind the plate and my defense played outstanding."
   Unaka jumped on top in the second when Ryan Bowers singled and advanced to second on a bunt single by Tee Blevins. After a walk to Travis Pasquale, Bowers was able to score on a wild pitch for a 1-0 lead.
   Unaka took a 2-0 lead in the third after Chad Lewis and Rusty Chambers led off with walks. A sacrifice bunt by Brent Huskins moved the runners up where Lewis scored on a wild pitch.
   John Sams was able to get the next two batters to wiggle out of a major jam.
   The Rangers used seven-run fourth inning to break open a close game. Three walks to Pasquale, Cody Collins and Lewis loaded the bases. Chambers followed with a single to left for two RBIs and a 4-0 lead.
   "We played much better today than our past four games," added Chambers. "We've had our minds on the gold ball more than the white ball lately. Daniel pitched fantastic today and our defense was solid."
   Huskins followed with a laser to center, plating two more and giving Unaka a 6-0 lead. Another single by Ryan Bowers and two walks gave Unaka a 9-0 advantage.
   "This was a big conference game for us and we wanted it bad," stated Huskins. "Daniel threw one heck of a game."
   Unaka tallied their final run on an error and two walks. University High threatened in the fifth thanks to two walks and a hits batsman.
   McInturff was able to get a strikeout and a fly ball to end the game.
   Bowers had two hits for Unaka while Chambers and Huskins had two RBIs each. Lewis, Chambers, Huskins and Blevins added hits each for the Rangers.
   "We played some good baseball today," said Unaka skipper Mike "Acie" Ensor. "We've not got to do much this past week but our kids played with much more effort today."
   "Daniel did a good job mixing his pitches. Coach Minton (John) has worked extra hard with our pitching staff."
   Unaka travels to Unicoi today at 6 p.m. for an encounter with the Blue Devils.