By Tim Chambers
It took a decade and a half to for someone to halt Unaka’s run as conference champion, but North Greene pulled off the improbable. And the Huskies did it with a pitcher that was born around the same time that the streak was started.
Sophomore ace Tyler Bailey provided the Huskies with a gutsy mound performance, helping them to a 5-1 win over the Rangers on Wednesday afternoon at Claude Holsclaw Field.
The Rangers had the crafty right-hander on the ropes in almost every inning, but left 12 runners stranded on the bases. That, coupled with hitting into a pair of double plays, led to their demise.
“Several times in the game we had our four and five hitters up with runners and second and third – and couldn’t get them in,” said Unaka head coach Aaron Dugger. “I’ll take that anytime from here on out because they usually produce. We just did get the key hit when we had to, and they got a couple of cappers. The bottom line is they got the key ones and we didn’t.”
North Greene got on the board first by scoring a solo run in the second inning. Adam Kirk’s RBI single scored Dalton Wright who had doubled.
They extended it to 3-0 in the third frame with a couple more.
A two-run single by Dalton Wright allowed Troy Hall and Brett Bolton to race home after both had swatted base hits.
Unaka’s lone run can in the bottom half. Weston Colbaugh singled, then moved to third on a base hit by Eli Rasnick. The Huskies tried to throw out Rasnick on a steal at second, but the throw was dropped, which allowed courtesy runner Jonathan Wright to score.
Ethan’s Dotson’s clutch two-out single with two strikes helped put the Huskies up 4-1 in the sixth inning.
They added a solo run in the seventh on a RBI bunt single by Bailey, allowing Zack Potter, who had doubled, to score.
The Rangers got a couple of runners on in the seventh, but Bailey fanned the final batter to end the game.
Bailey (8 hits, 8 runs, 4 walks, 2 hit batters) was able to record the key outs and escape jams when he had to.
“I didn’t have my best stuff today, but the guys did a good job behind me,” said Bailey. “For us to be where we were two years ago and now be conference champs feels great. “
Josh Rasnick went the distance for Unaka, allowing nine hits in the loss.
Danny Bales and Eli Rasnick went 2-3 each to top Unaka at the plate. Jeffrey Yerkes and Colbaugh were 1-2 apiece. Billy Bales and Isaac Ray had the other two hits.
Wright’s 2-2 and Dotson’s 2-3 efforts led North Greene’s hitting department. Hall, Potter, Kirk, Bolton and Bailey provided one apiece.
Head coach Tim Lady touched on his team’s hitting. No North Greene batter struck out in the game.
“Our hitting is coming along,” said Lady. “We’re not striking out a lot like we were earlier. We hit it well all up and down the lineup. Unaka’s got a good ball club. I’ve known these guys for years and they’re a class act. We’re fortunate to come up here and get a win. We’ve got a good group of young kids who stepped up and answered the challenge.
Dugger said the task at hand is now a simple one for his team.
“We’ve just got to worry about ourselves and keep getting better,” said Dugger. “There is still a lot to play for this season. They know what they’ve got to do.”
— — —
N. Greene 012 001 1 — 5 9 2
Unaka 001 000 0 — 1 8 0
Bailey and Bolton. J. Rasnick and Colbaugh. W—Bailey. L—Rasnick.