Devils derail 'Betsy

By Tim Chambers

   The Elizabethton Cyclones have given Unicoi a new nickname as the Blue Devils will now be known as the pick-pockets during baseball season. After three games and 19 innings of baseball between the team teams, the Cyclones have no runs to show on the scoreboard for their efforts.
   Behind the one-hit pitching performance by Chase Whitson, Unicoi knocked off Elizabethton 2-0 and advanced to the second round of the District 1-AA baseball tournament at Joe O'Brien Field.
   "We've tried everything against them," stated a dejected Cyclone skipper Steve "Pink" McKinney. "We had our chances but it seems like each time they make a good play or we fail to move a runner or make a play. Give Unicoi credit -- their kid pitched a great game."
   Unicoi took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Ryan Corn led off with a walk and later scored on a single by Drew Anders. Chase Whitson ripped a one-out double to put runners at second and third, giving the Devils a chance for a big innings.
   Nathan Bishop silenced the Devil faithful when a botched squeeze play went bad and Bishop fired a rocket to third to nail Anders, who was trying to get back safely. Zach Stipe ended the inning by striking out the batter.
   Elizabethton tried to rally with two outs in the second inning after walks to Trevor Hyder and Alex Graves put two men aboard. Mitchell Blevins sent a Whitson fastball near the left-field wall, only to see Blue Devil left fielder Luke Walawander make a spectacular over-the-shoulder grab that took away a sure triple and two potential runs.
   Stipe and Whitson were brilliant and the defense by both teams was outstanding. Stipe would allow only one hit after the first inning, a double by Whitson in the fourth until the sixth frame.
   Whitson pitched out of another mess in the fifth inning as Trevor Hyder reached on an error to start the inning. Elizabethton got its only hit of the game when Graves laid down a bunt up the first-base line and dove around the tag of the first baseman, hooking the bag with his left hand that was ruled a hit.
   Coach Steve "Pink" McKinney did what every good manager would have done and called for the sacrifice bunt to third, but the bunt attempt was popped up for an out. Whitson got an infield fly and a strikeout to end another Cyclone scoring threat.
   The Blue Devils added an insurance run in the sixth as Anders drew a walk and Tim Peterson added a double scoring Anders for a 2-0 lead.
   Unicoi threatened to bust the game wide open after Dusty Tolley singled but Stipe was able to get out of the jam after Nat Treadway made an terrific catch off a hard smash by Ben Peterson, and Scott Galloway flied out deep to Grave ending the inning.
   With one last crack at a win, Whitson struck out the first two batters in the seventh and got a groundout to end the game.
   "Chase pitched a heck of a game for us today," said Unicoi County head coach Chris Bogart. "We made a couple of breakdowns in the game but our overall effort was outstanding.
   Added McKinney: "Zach's performance was awesome and our kids played hard -- we just made a few mistakes that hurt us during the game. I am so proud of all the all the players, especially the seniors on this team."
   "We won 19 games but that 20th win was so hard to get. It hurts to go out this way, losing on a shutout and when you get no hits during the game."
   The Cyclone close out the year 19-14 overall.
   Sullivan North 5
   Johnson County 1
   Johnson County jumped on top 1-0 in the first after reached on an error and scored on a base hit by Zack Reece.
   North wasted no time plating three in the bottom half, thanks to doubles from Shawn Wright and Geoff Hinkle, along with two errors, that added to the cause.
   North tallied a solo run in the fourth after Chris Eaton reached on a single and later scored on another base knocker by Matt Quillen. The Golden Raiders got an unearned run in the sixth to claim a 5-1 victory.
   Gary Evans was outstanding on the mound for the Longhorns, allowing five runs on only six hits. Three runs were unearned. Reece, who is only a freshman led the hitting going 3-for-3 while Nathan Paisley and Jenkins had the other two hits all singles.
   North advances to the next round against Unicoi Sunday afternoon at 5 p.m. at Joe O'Brien Field. Happy Valley will take on Sullivan Central a 4-3 winner over Volunteer at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon.