After seeing league-leading Unicoi dice KFC into cole slaw with a 17-2 opener, both second-place Beef ‘O’Brady’s and third-place Burgie Drug wanted to prove their mettle in Thursday’s Elizabethton National Cal Ripken nightcap.
The fighting pharmacists fought from behind and forced extra innings, but Nick Hurley couldn’t be contained.
Beef ‘O’Brady’s’ star slugger and ace pitcher retired six straight batters in the final two innings and scored the winning run as the green sand black held on for a 10-9 decision in seven innings at T.J. Burleson Memorial Field.
Hurley paced an offensive night for Beef O’Brady’s, which combined for 20 hits. The slugger was 4-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored.
Ethan Eggleston, Colton Miller and Drew Broome all delivered three hits at the plate, while Evan Sewell and Bart Wilson tallied two hits each.
Burgie Drug, on the other hand, scattered just six hits in a losing effort, but was aided by five pivotal errors that nearly turned the tide of the game in its favor.
Beef ‘O’Brady’s jumped out to a quick lead and maintained its advantage until the fifth.
Eggleston and Hunter Johnson had RBI singles, while Caeden Kerr offered an RBI double to make it 3-0. Burgie battled back within one thanks to a two-run ground-out from J.D. McAmis, but the deficit was close behind.
Eggleston, Miller and Sewell each drove one run across in the third to extend the Beef ‘O’Brady edge to four, then Wilson crossed on a fielding error in the fourth to give Burgie a five-run deficit.
Burgie Drug didn’t quit, however, making its first big charge with two outs on the board.
Tyler Stansberry doubled, then scored when Cayd Pope offered a single that was bogged up in the field for extra bases.
Garrett Deloach plated the two runners with a double, then scored on his own when an errant throw from third base sailed wild.
Logan Ingram struck out, but reached on an errant throw by the catcher to allow Reece Bradford an RBI double to pull within one.
Beef O’Brady’s chipped back out to a three-run lead with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth. Miller, who scored three times, offered his second RBI single, then Sewell added a run-scoring double.
With the time limit transpiring, Burgie appeared to have one final shot.
Brandon Combs singled, then Tre Shoun reached safely on a fielder’s choice. An error off the bat of David Fleenor scored two runs, then Fleenor stole home to tie the game with one out on the board.
Cameron Harris reached on a dropped third strike and error, then worked his way to third. A base-running mistake cost Burgie the win as an infield fly from Stansberry pulled Harris over halfway toward home plate.
By the time the runner corrected himself, the double play was in the books.
Beef ‘O’Brady’s turned to the intimidating Hurley, whose fastball has opposing batters pulled way off the plate. Hurley struck out two of the first three batters he retired, then took matters into his own hands offensively with two outs on the board.
After two strikeouts, Hurley doubled, stole third then raced home on a wild pitch to give his team the one-run lead.
Burgie had one final shot, but three batters stood in front of Hurley and each were sent back to the dugout with a K on the score-sheet.
Unicoi Blue Devils…………………………….17
League-leading Unicoi combined for all 17 of its runs in the first two innings, using 14 hits to batter the drumsticks, who committed seven errors.
The Blue Devils jumped out to a 9-0 lead, then ran their advantage to 17-0 after an eight-run second inning. KFC scored two runs in the second, but it wasn’t enough to halt the run rule.
Justin Laugheron was 2-for-3 with two RBI to lead Unicoi, while Hunter Higgins and Fisher Abbott each drove one run across on 2-for-3 efforts.
Hunter Duncan also added two hits, while Gerardo Nunez drove three runs across on a 1-for-3 effort.
Clay Simpson, Garett Bratton and Jesus Nunez all drove a run across with a hit for Unicoi. Owen Nicholson, who pitched the win, and Trevor Hensley capped the offensive onslaught with 1-for-3 nights at the plate.
For KFC, Cameron Coleman had an RBI single, while Bailey Conley and Jacob Viccio each had a hit.