Rangers rally to vanquish Patriots, 8-7

By Emily Arnold
STAR Correspondent

   Although the air was a bit chilly Tuesday evening, the bats for the Unaka Rangers were hot. The Rangers managed an 8-7 home win over Sullivan East, tallying eight runs off of 11 hits.
   The Patriots took a 2-0 lead thanks to two-run homer by Matt Eads that scored Justin Mullins, who had singled.
   The East scoring run would last throughout the second and third innings, accumulating six runs until Swearingen entered the game with no outs and three men on in the fourth.
   He then struck out two of the next three batters, forcing Eads to fly out to Rusty Chambers and escaping the inning. The Patriots scored only one run off Swearingen over the next four innings.
   Meanwhile, the Rangers were uncharacteristically slow at the plate with East pitcher Logan Bowers on the mound. With only one hit over three innings and a six-run deficit, the Rangers decided to get things started.
   Ryan Bowers and Brent Huskins singled, followed by a walk to Cody Collins and loading the bases for short-stop Chad Lewis. Lewis proceeded to take Bowers long for a grand slam, giving the Rangers a much-needed boost.
   Unaka led off the fifth with Lewis reaching on an error, followed by a walk to Chambers. Swearingen singled, scoring Lewis. Tee Blevins shot a liner into the gap for a two-run single, bringing Chambers and Swearingen home.
   The Rangers were able, however, to take the field in the top of the sixth with a slim 7-6 lead over East.
   The Patriots answered the Rangers once again in the sixth, scoring a run off of a walk, two fielder's choices, and a hit batsman.
   Unaka continued to hold the Patriots scoreless in the top of the seventh as the inning ended in controversy over the infield fly rule.
   With one run needed for the win, the Rangers went to work in the bottom of the seventh inning. Bowers, who went 2-for-2 on the day, reached on an error, followed by a single from Huskins. Cody Collins walked to load the bases.
   Lewis, who was 2-for-3 with five RBIs on the day, lined another hard-hit shot up the middle, bringing home Bowers for the Unaka win.
   Huskins and Swearingen added two hits for the Rangers while Chambers had a hit and a walk. McIntuff chipped in with a single while Blevins contributed a hit and two RBIs.
   Unaka (6-0, 20-11) travels to Sullivan South today for its final game of the regular season. Game time is 6 p.m.