Jr. Bucs outlast Rangers

By Chad Booth
STAR CORRESPONDENT

   Games between University High and Unaka usually come attached with plenty of incentive. Wednesday's meeting at Cannon-Gouge Park was no exception.
   University High defeated Unaka 4-2 in eight innings to end Watauga Valley Conference play and decide which team would go into the conference tournament with the first seed.
   "What we wanted to do today was come out...hit the ball, make the routine plays, and throw strikes," said University High head coach Joe Borden. "Overall we did what we wanted to accomplish today."
   University High came charging out in the first inning with a leadoff double by Drew Harrell. Paul Williams reached base on a walk, putting two men on with just one out.
   From there Unaka made two errors, allowing the base runners to score. The Rangers were able to salvage the inning with a ground out and a pickoff at third base.
   "I was most pleased with the bottom of the order putting the bat on the ball," said Borden.
   Aaron Dugger led off for the Rangers and stole second base to put himself in scoring position. Ben Cole drove Dugger in with a two-out single to bring Unaka to within one run.
   Outstanding defense for both teams kept the game a stalemate until the sixth inning. Cole ripped a single to center field and stole second five pitches later.
   A wild pitch allowed him to easily take third base, then, in a gutsy move, Cole stole home plate to even the game at two with just one inning left.
   Neither team could break the tie in the seventh, forcing the game into extra innings.
   Williams led off the inning for University High with a single to center, followed by a base hit from Ben Shew to shallow right field.
   An error by the second baseman gave the Bucs the bases loaded with just one out. Following a fly out by Toby Hoyle, Josh Fields lined a single up the middle to drive in two runs and recapture the lead for UH.
   The two runs proved to be enough as the University High defense held Unaka in the bottom of the eighth.
   "Randy Swearingen pitched a great ball game but he faced another good pitcher on the other side," said Unaka head coach Mike Ensor. "We have to hit the ball a little better and make the clutch plays when it counts."
   Unaka begins its tournament play Monday at 4:30 p.m. University High plays at 7 p.m.
   Both games will be held at the Elizabethton Twins ballpark.