'Betsy trims Unaka in WCC title game

Photo by Kristen Luther
Elizabethton second-baseman Ricky Garrison gets set to throw to first after forcing out Unaka's Rust Chambers.

By Tim Chambers
STAR Staff

   Elizabethton opened up a six-pack on Unaka in the third inning of Saturday afternoon championship game in the Washington County Classic, and it proved to be what the doctor ordered.
   Scoring all their runs in one inning, the Cyclones held on for a 6-5 win over the cross town rival Rangers.
   Coach Steve "Pink" McKinney rolled the dice and started freshman pitcher Josh Guinn, and the result was a Rembrandt over four and two thirds inning. Guinn allowed only two baserunners over the course of three innings and pitched out of a major jam in the second when Rusty Chambers reached on a walk but was erased on a fielder's choice by Travis Pasquale.
   Tee Blevins lofted a double down the right-field line, but Pasquale was cut down at the plate to end the inning. Blevins escaped trouble in the first, allowing singles to Nat Treadway and Travis Bowers, but induced an infield pop-up to stop the Cyclone threat.
   "I was proud of Guinn today," said McKinney. "He came in and threw strikes and gave us five good innings of work."
   Treadway got things started with one out in the third by ripping a single to set the stage for Travis Bowers, who took a low breaking ball over the leftfield wall for a home run. After a groundout, 'Betsy scored four more with two outs when Charles Peters walked and later scored on a double by Trevor Hyder.
   "It's a lot of fun to play against all the guy you've played against for years," said Hyder. "I think we played a good game and Unaka did a good job coming back. I was seeing the ball well today."
   Adam Grindstaff followed with a free pass then J.C. Atkinson smashed a double in the gap allowing two runs to score for a 5-0 advantage. A bad-hop single off the bat of Ryan Kennedy brought home a solo run for a 6-0 lead.
   Randy Swearingen relieved Blevins to start the fourth and allowed no runs the rest of the way. Two hits and a walk was all that 'Betsy could muster off Swearingen, but Unaka had dug themselves a deep hole and needed a bulldozer to get out.
   The Rangers touched Guinn for three in the fifth when Blevins singled and scored on a double by Ryan Bowers. Brett Huskins walked followed by Cody Collins, who ripped a double to left center for two RBIs, cutting the margin at 6-3.
   After a flyout, McKinney elected to bring in Zach Stipe to pitch to the left-handed hitting Chamber,s setting up lefty against lefty with runners at second and third. A wild pitch allowed Collins to race for home, but a good hustle play by Nathan Bishop, whose throw to Stipe prevented Collins from scoring and ended a major scoring threat.
   Unaka refused to quit when Blevins lined a double to the outfield to start the seventh and scored on another single by Bowers. Ricky Garrison made a great defensive play that might have saved the game, snaring a hard smash off the bat of Huskins which could have gotten in the gap for extra bases.
   With two outs Daniel McInturff sent a double just out of the reach of Bowers that sliced the Cyclone lead at one. Stipe was able to get Lewis on a fly ball to center that ended the game.
   Guinn got his first varsity win allowing three runs on five hits, striking out two while walking two. Blevins was touched for six runs, all earned in three innings of work.
   Bowers led the 'Betsy offense with three hits on the day while Treadway and Trevor Hyder had two each.
   Blevins had a perfect day at the plate, going 3-for-3 to lead Unaka while McInturff and Bowers added two hits each.
   "Bowers hit the ball wall the entire tournament and had seven hits in his last eight trips at the plate," added McKinney. "It was good to see two Carter County teams playing in the finals of a Washington County tournament."
   Note: The Elizabethton at Unaka baseball game Monday will not be played due to make-up games that need to be played.