Rangers hammer Jellico

Four homers, outstanding pitching send Unaka to Region 1-A title game

By Tim Chambers

   Jellico's four-hour trip to Unaka seemed like an extra-long drive for the Blue Devils. Some of the shots Unaka hit off the Blue Devil pitching were about as long as Jellico's journey to Stoney Creek.
   Behind four home runs and some outstanding pitching, Unaka cruised into the Region 1-A baseball championship game by knocking off the Blue Devils 13-1 at Claude Holsclaw.
   "We came out ready to play today," said Rangers right fielder Daniel McInturff. "We know from this point, it's one game at a time."
   Unaka struck like a cobra in the first inning as Cody Collins walked and was sacrificed to second by McInturff. Chad Lewis delighted the crowd with a two-run shot over the center-field wall to take a 2-0 lead.
   Unaka took a 3-0 advantage when the "Pepperoni Pounder" Travis Pasquale sent another Blue Devil pitch near Barker's Drive-In for a 3-0 advantage.
   "Everybody stepped up and played well today," added Pasquale. "We know this is a team game."
   Unaka struck for four in the second. Andrew Church led off with a single and scored when Brent Huskins ripped a fastball across Highway 91 to give Unaka a 5-0 lead.
   "We wanted to come out and jump on them early," stated Huskins. "We saw what could happen last week if you don't come ready to play.
   Unaka upped the lead at 7-0 after Cody Collins slapped a single in the hole and McInturff followed with a double in the gap. Unaka picked up two more when an error allowed Collins and McInturff to race home.
   Unaka delivered the knockout blow in the fourth, with Collins and McInturff walking and Chad Lewis following with an RBI single. Rusty Chambers added gasoline to the fire by ripping a three-run homer over the center-field wall for an 11-1 advantage.
   Meanwhile, Tee Blevins was making quick work of the Blue Devils after a home run in the first inning by Taylor Mitchell. After a groundout to second in the first inning, Blevins retired the next seven men by strikeouts, and allowed only three hits for the entire game.
   Unaka pushed across two in the fifth after Huskins singled and Collins walked, allowing McInturff to collect two RBIs after crushing a two-run double off the right-center field wall for a 13-1 advantage.
   Blevins retired the Blue Devils with ease, getting a double play and strikeout to end the game.
   Collins reached base four times, going 2-for-2 while McInturff, Lewis, Pasquale and Huskins chipped in with two hits to pace the Ranger offense. Chambers and Lewis collected three RBIs while Huskins added two on the day.
   "We came out and played like a team on a mission," stated Ranger head coach Mike "Acie" Ensor. "We hit the ball hard the entire day and Tee gave us a great effort on the mound.
   "There are only 16 teams left after today, so you've got to come ready to play every time you step out on the field.
   "We know from here out any game will be tough. With the schedule we've played this season, our kids should be ready for any opponent we face."