By Rick Sheek
Miscues and failed opportunities were the downfall of Unaka’s baseball team on Friday.
Committing five errors and stranding 14 baserunners, the Rangers were derailed by South Greene 8-7 in eight innings at Claude Holsclaw Field.
“You leave 14 runners on base in a game like that, in a shootout, 8-7,” Unaka coach Aaron Dugger said. “You’ve can’t leave 14 runners on base in a 1-0 ball game, much less 8-7. They’re going to make you pay.”
The Rangers (5-8) had juiced the bags with two out in the bottom of the eighth. Josh Rasnick walked and was advanced on an Eli Rasnick bunt.
Thomas Hardin blasted a hard single to the outfield, but Rasnick was held up at third base as the throw fired in high to South Greene catcher Logan Tweed. With two out, Brett Crawford was struck by reliever David Lowery to load the bases.
Billy Bales lined a shot to third baseman Cole Baxley to end the affair.
Eli Rasnick hurled into the seventh inning. He was pulled after Logan Collins led off with a single.
Rasnick scattered nine hits. He yielded three earned runs, struck out seven and walked one with a wild pitch.
Isaac Ray closed the final two innings. He allowed one hit and fanned two with two wild pitches.
“Eli pitched a good game,” Dugger said. “Isaac came in and did what he was supposed to do. You make five errors, you’re not going to beat anybody.
“You’re not going to beat anybody making five errors, and that’s concentration. “
Danny Bales, who homered, batted 2 for 4. Hardin and Jeffrey Yerkes were each 2 for 5.
South Greene (12-3) grabbed a 2-0 advantage in the first inning when two runners crossed on an error. Danny Bales responded with a two-run homer in the bottom half to tie the contest.
Collins doubled with one out in the third and later scored on an error. Jordan Renner’s run-scoring double staked the Rebels a 4-2 lead.
The fifth saw Tweed and Daniel Lowery deliver run-scoring singles. A wild pitch plated a score to make it 7-2.
Unaka rallied in impressive fashion. Hardin kicked off the flurry with a two-run single.
Yerkes ripped a run-scoring single. A run was walked in to trim the deficit to 7-6, but the bases were still full.
In the sixth, Yerkes’ run-scoring singled brought the Rangers even at 7-all. South Greene left two on in the seventh.
Unaka’s last shot in regulation saw Billy Bales walk and reach second base on a Jacob Hill bunt. He was stranded.
Lowery led off extra innings with a single. He was gunned down for the first out, but the winning run eventually crossed on a pair of Unaka errors.
Dylan Yates fired 4 1/3 innings for the Rebels. He gave up six hits, four earned runs, fanned five and walked two with three hit batters.
In 2 2/3 innings, Lowery was touched for two hits and an earned run. He struck out four, walked four and hit two batters.
Collins batted 3 for 4. Renner was 2 for 3 and Lowery went 2 for 4.
“This team I’ve got – they can play with anybody if they come in, have the right mentality and want to battle,” Dugger said. “They’re a good baseball team, but a game here, a game there – it’s lack of focus. That’s why we’re losing some of these one-run ball games.”
— — —
S. Greene 202 030 01 — 8 10 2
Unaka 200 041 00 — 7 8 5
Yates, Lowery (5) and Tweed. E. Rasnick, Ray (7) and Hill. W—Lowery. L—Ray. HRs—Unaka: D. Bales (1).