Rangers ride Swearingen no-hitter

By Wes Holtsclaw

   Randy Swearingen struck out more batters than Mike Tyson has missing teeth.
   Behind 13 strikeouts, including nine straight to open the game, Swearingen threw a no-hitter to help the Unaka Rangers hammer the Washburn Pirates with a 14-0 shutout victory in the Region 1-A semifinals.
   "Today was a good day," said the freshman Swearingen. "My arm felt good. I just went out, Coach told me to throw strikes, and if they hit it, let the defense do the rest. That's what I did."
   "What can you say, he threw a no-hitter," said Unaka coach Mike Ensor. "It's phenomenal. Their coach was very praiseful, the umpire was very praiseful."
   "He threw a great ballgame, was hitting spots, had great velocity, and what I like about this is that we did what we had to do in five innings. We didn't drag it on and make him stay on the mound."
   Swearingen was a machine in the game, only giving up three walks in his 18 batters, 13 going down hard. But as good as his pitching was, the Unaka bats were ticking as well.
   Said Ensor: "We hit it, we hit it hard today. That's what their coach was saying, that they haven't seen anybody that hit it hard like that all season. Maybe that's a good thing -- maybe we're peaking at the right time and we'll see what happens tomorrow."
   Rusty Chambers and David Perry led the Rangers with the aluminum last night. Chambers went three for three with a double, four RBIs, and a run, while Perry batted three for three with four RBIs and three runs.
   "I think we played pretty well," said Chambers, "especially out in the field. Hitting wise, we did well all around. We gotta come out the same tomorrow night, with the same intensity, and stay up in the dugout."
   As much work as the hitting and pitching took, the Rangers were at a high spot behind the plate with Chad Lewis, who didn't allow any balls to pass him on the evening.
   "He's solid," commented Ensor. "Chad he does a good job back there, and when called upon Brent (Huskins) does a good job back there. They both work hard at it, and that's the main thing for a catcher. They hustle and work their tails off, they handle pretty good pitchers and that makes a difference."
   Unaka opened the first inning with a score, after Chambers singled in Jeremy McCann, taking the 1-0 lead. The Rangers followed in the second inning with three more runs, after RBI plays from Perry, Chambers, and McCann.
   Despite the success, Unaka had four runners caught stealing in the game, including a double play in the third inning, involving two runners.
   "We ran ourselves out of a couple of innings early," said Ensor. "We ran a little bit on our own, some of them were our calls. They did a good job of picking things out, we thought he knew our signs. Their catcher (Adam Waltonharger) did a great job of throwing us out."
   Unaka took the ballgame after an annihilating fourth inning, where 10 runs were scored to put it away. During which, Perry had two hits for three RBIs, Chambers had a double for two RBIs, Lewis dented an RBI single, Chris Arnold had two RBIs with a double, and Aaron Dugger accounted for an RBI double.
   The Rangers only gave up two strikeouts and had just four walks, serving as a testament to the hitting prowess of the team.
   It was an impressive outing for Unaka, which advances to the regional championship tonight against the University High Jr. Bucs in their seventh meeting on the year. The game will be at Joe O'Brien Field, with a starting time of 7:30.