Eleven-run inning fuels UHS, 'Landers tripped by Huskies

By Tim Chambers

   It was billed as David verses Goliath, but for four innings the maroon giant was on the verge of falling before a double play turned the entire game around.
   Trailing 5-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth, Unaka erupted for 11 runs to knock off North Greene 13-7 in the District 1-A baseball tournament Tuesday night at Anglin Field.
   "We struggled early and this is the time of year you can't do that," stated Unaka head coach Mike "Acie" Ensor. "We better realize that teams are not going to roll over for you and play dead."
   After retiring the first three hitters, Unaka scored a solo run in the first after Cody Collins walked and Daniel McInturff followed with a bunt single. Chad Lewis moved the runners to second and third, then Chambers brought home Collins for a 1-0 lead.
   North Greene jumped on starter Tee Blevins for five runs in the second when J.P Johnson led off with a triple while Shane Ward, Allen Guinn and Jordan Gibson added singles. A misplayed sacrifice bunt that was thrown down the right-field line helped North Greene to plate three unanswered with two outs, taking a 5-1 advantage.
   Blevins settled down and silenced the Husky bats, but Unaka appeared like it was hitting in a silo as everything was going straight up while a lack of patience at the plate proved costly several times with the count in their favor.
   The key play came in the fourth inning with two aboard as Lewis, Chambers and Swearingen rolled a double play that seem to spark the Ranger crowd.
   In the bottom half of the inning it was the same trio who started the big offensive inning. Lewis led off with a walk, followed by free passes to Chambers and Swearingen. A rope by Travis Pasquale accounted for two RBIs, while a Blevins base knock tied the score at 5.
   Unaka kept pounding with Bowers adding a hit, and McInturff, Lewis, Chambers and Swearingen reaching base for the second time in the inning. With two aboard the "Pepperoni Pounder" Pasquale took a fastball over the left-field wall for a three-run homer, giving Unaka a12-5 lead.
   "I was the DH today so I was wanting to help my teammates with my bat," stated Pasquale. "We can play much better than we did today."
   Pasquale totaled five RBIs in the inning. He, along with Chambers, Lewis and Swearingen, crossed the plate two times each in the wild and wacky fifth inning.
   The Huskies added two runs in the sixth but it was not enough, as Unaka would tally a single run in the sixth to nail down the victory.
   Blevins got the win, giving up eight hits on the evening, while Starnes took the loss.
   Ryan Bowers had a good night by going 3-for-4 while McInturff added a triple and a single to the cause.
   "I'd rather win ugly than lose pretty," stated Bowers. "We need to play each game one at a time."
   Chambers, Swearingen and Lewis reached base three times each while accounting for seven of the Ranger runs on the evening. Blevins collected two hits to aid the Unaka offense.
   Unaka (21-12) plays North Greene today at 2 p.m. at Anglin Field, located on the Milligan College Campus.
   University High 12
   Cloudland 8
   The Jr. Bucs appeared to have the game well in control, scoring seven runs in the first two innings, but the Highlanders refused to fold.
   Cloudland used a leadoff triple by Mark Byrd and single from Dave Holden to take an early 1-0 lead, but the boys from UH went on a hitting spree.
   Singles from Ryan Collins, Tyler Blevins, Toby Hoyle and Garrison Burton helped stake UH to an early 5-1 lead. A double from Blevins and another single by Hoyle as good for a 7-1 advantage.
   "I'll take the blame for this loss," said Highlander head coach Robbie Turbyfill. "I probably should have started Mark (Byrd) in the game, but it hurts us defensively when we take him out of the infield."
   Cloudland used a seven-run third to take an 8-7 advantage. Singles from Byrd, Holden and Dane Christman proved big in the comeback, but the two key blows were a double to deep center by Aaron Stocton, scoring two runs, and Byrd's second triple, which brought home two more runs, giving Cloudland the one-run lead.
   Coach Tony Gordon relieved B.J. Nave in the fourth with Josh Sams, who held the Highlanders scoreless the rest of the contest. A solo run in the fifth and two more in the sixth was the result of Morgan Woodacre, whose two RBI single in the fifth with two outs proved to be the fatal blow for the Highlanders.
   "We getting there," stated Gordon. "We've got good kids that play hard. I'm just trying help this team improve each and every game."
   Byrd relieved Holden in the first inning and pitched them out of a major mess. Byrd surrendered seven runs and was charged with the loss.
   Byrd had a tremendous day at the plate, batting 3 for 4 with two triples, while Holden added three hits as well. Dane Christman accounted for two singles as the Highlanders banged out a total of nine hits on the day.
   "Our first six hit the ball well today," added Turbyfill. "We've got to get some production in the bottom part for us to be successful."
   Cloudland will take on North Greene today at 4:30 p.m. at Anglin Field.