Warriors edged by Blue Devils

By Wes Holtsclaw

   The Happy Valley Warriors were looking for a big Watauga Conference win at home. It didn't come at the expense of Unicoi County.
   In Monday's league battle, the visiting Blue Devils overcame a bad weekend of losses and took advantage of errors and mistakes in the field by the Warriors.
   Led by a complete game from John Broyles and two big hits from Tim Peterson, Unicoi took the 4-3 decision at Cannon-Gouge Park.
   "Considering what we've been through the past 72 hours as a team, I was incredibly impressed," said Unicoi County coach Chris Bogart, whose team suffered losses to Unaka and Sullivan Central.
   "The loss to Unaka, we really didn't show up, the loss to Sullivan Central and we've had a couple of other distractions," said the coach. "For these guys to come out here and bounce back, it really shows a lot about their character. This bunch wants to win and they have what it takes."
   The Devils scored the winning run in the top of the seventh inning after Drew Anders advanced on an error. Peterson followed him up with an RBI double to left center and the Warriors couldn't rebound.
   "They made one more play than we did and had one more hit when it counted," said Warrior coach Greg Hyder. "It's tough to swallow, but they played a good ballgame. I didn't feel like we played as well, because we had too many mistakes and errors. You can't do that and beat people.
   "We're 16-4 and we've got a ton better to get," he said. "We've got to decide when we're going to win one that counts. That's critical. We're not winning conference games. That's three conference losses for us.
   "For a team that wants to try to push for a title, we always seem to back ourselves in a hole. We've got to decide whether we're going to get out of it."
   Happy Valley brought the first run across in the second inning.
   Tim Whaley opened the stanza with a walk and scored when Ben Peterson overthrew Unicoi third baseman Tim Peterson.
   Unicoi got on the scoreboard in the fourth inning when Tim Peterson opened with a solo jack into centerfield.
   The unit took their first lead of the game after a Broyles single, when Cody Scott doubled and Dusty Tolley provided a run on a sacrificed fly.
   Errors would cost Happy Valley late.
   In the fifth, Matt White came aboud with an error while a walk and another error loaded things up for Broyles. Broyles walked and the Devils had a 3-1 lead.
   Ricky Morgan answered for the tribe during the bottom of the fifth frame. With Shannon Buchanan aboard after a walk, Morgan dropped a shallow hit into left field to close the gap at one.
   Happy Valley wasn't finished, however, when Ryan Toney's double set up a score in the sixth inning when Allen Dykes drew the fielder's choice to make it a tie ballgame.
   The Warriors left two on base with two straight outs to end that part of the inning.
   After Unicoi scored in the seventh, Todd Caldwell responded after two outs for Valley with a single and error putting him on second.
   Whaley was a few feet shy of getting into the gap with his grounder, setting up the final game-winning out for Unicoi.
   Caldwell got the start for the Warriors and went six innings before Ryan Toney took the loss in relief.
   "We played hard and the two pitchers did a good job," Hyder said. "Four runs is not bad, but two of them were unearned. Without those unearned runs, we win. We battled them and we hung in there with a chance to win in the end."
   The Warriors host Sullivan South on Thursday and Daniel Boone on Friday before playing the Greeneville Greene Devils in Erwin on Saturday.