Rebels work extra inning to edge Rangers

By Tim Chambers

   KINGSPORT--Sullivan South had split games with Science Hill and Dobyns-Bennett during the regular-season baseball schedule. The Rebels added Unaka to their list Wednesday evening by the skin of their teeth.
   Rallying for two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Sullivan South knocked off Unaka 5-4 at the Rebel Field to avenge an earlier loss in the Blue Devil Classic.
   "Unaka is one of the best teams we have played all season," stated Sullivan South head coach Anthony Richardson. "It wouldn't surprise me to see them make some noise in Memphis."
   The game started out like a Long John Silver's seafood platter, with Fish and Tee highlighting the menu. Tee Blevins and Hunter Fish locked into a pitcher's duel with Fish tossing two scoreless innings before giving way to Andy Morelock.
   South (24-12) took a 1-0 lead in the first before Unaka answered with its version of small ball in the third. Daniel McInturff laid down a bunt that was misplayed sending him to second base.
   Chad Lewis' sacrifice bunt moved McInturff to third and Rusty Chambers brought him home with a groundout to first.
   "I love playing against this type of teams," added McInturff. "It will help us when we get into the tournaments."
   South took a 2-1 lead thanks to a single by Aaron Hudgins and a double from Dustin Mohr. Unaka tied the game in the fifth as McInturff walked and advanced to second on a groundout. A two-out single by Chambers tied the game at two.
   Unaka (20-12) took the lead in the sixth as Andrew Church ripped a single while Collins doubled in the gap for a 3-2 Unaka lead. Unaka loaded the bases but Morelock managed to pitch out of the jam by getting Chambers to strike out swinging.
   South tied the score in the bottom half as Morelock single, as did T.J. Shaver. A fielder's choice tied the score, but Unaka got a huge play from Lewis at short then Blevins struck out the next batter to end the inning.
   After a scoreless inning South was within one pitch of winning the game as the bases were loaded with a 3-0 count on the batter, but Blevins dug deep and managed to throw three strikes to catch the batter looking and send the game into extra innings.
   Collins reached first by getting plunked on his fanny and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by McInturff. After a groundout, Chambers sent a drive off the 370 sign, just missing a home run by a foot but good for an RBI and a 4-3 lead.
   "We need to come out and play like this all the time," said Chambers. "Tournament times has arrived so we wanted to make a statement by showing teams we are serious about getting back to Memphis."
   Moore got a Texas league single to drop behind the first-base line, and Mitch Bredingfield and Nathan Free laid down bunts that went for hits. Grady Moore single to tie the game, but Collins cut down the winning run trying to score on a perfect throw from left field.
   After walking Hudgins intentionally, Scott Daniels got a sacrifice fly just deep enough that allowed Moore to score for the winning run.
   Chambers and McInturff had two hits each to pace Unaka while Collins, Lewis, Pasquale, Bowers and Church had one hit each.
   Chambers totaled three RBIs on the day. Tyler McCann had a super defensive game in center field, making several outstanding catches. Lewis was a vacuum at short.
   "We have confidence in each other," added Lewis. "We know someone will step up and do the job. We gave them all they wanted today."
   Blevins was a workhorse on the mound, going the distance giving up 11 hits while striking out eight.
   "I felt good out their today," stated Blevins. "I wanted to do whatever I could to help us win today."
   "Our kids played their tails off today with one of the best teams in this area," said Unaka head coach Mike "Acie" Ensor. "This team plays with so much confidence. You never see any of the kids getting down on one another.
   "The players deserve the credit but so do Coach (Jon) MInton and Coach (Ryan) Nave. Everyone has done a good job."