By Tim Chambers
GRAY — Unaka couldn’t knock off the big dog, but proved it can stay on the porch.
The Rangers took Greeneville down to the wire before falling 4-1 in the Snowball Classic at Daniel Boone on Wednesday night.
A lucky bounce and a couple of web gems by the Greene Devils’ outfield would prove to the difference. Coach Aaron Dugger felt like his team’s inability to convert with two outs proved to be the difference in the contest.
“Greeneville made the plays they were supposed to make and some we didn’t expect them to make,” said Unaka skipper Aaron Dugger. “Hats off to them, but two-out situations are killing us both offensively and defensively right now and that’s something we’ve got to clean up. Either we give up a hit or make an error, or we get men on and fail to score. You have to make those clutch plays or a good team will make you play for that. We saw that here tonight.”
Greeneville (6-2) took a 2-0 lead in the third.
Joe Tillery and Brennan Hollowell collected back-to-back singles then scored on double by Zack Finchum.
The Rangers scored a solo run in the fourth to cut the deficit at 2-1.
Thomas Hardin singled to drive home Eli Rasnick, who had reached on a base hit to start the inning.
Everything appeared to be going Unaka’s way until “Lady Luck” sided with the Greene Devils.
The Rangers (1-5) were close to getting out of the inning, but a soft chopper somehow managed to bounce high over the infield to bring home a run. They followed that up with a Texas League single just out of the reach of two fielders, accounting for the final score.
The hitting was lacking a bit, but pitching and defense were outstanding for Unaka.
Josh Rasnick scattered 10 hits while going the distance on the mound. Four times he was able to escape innings unharmed after two or more runners had reached.
A couple of outstanding plays by Eli Rasnick prevented Greenevile from scoring. Danny Bales was a vacuum at third, making two outstanding backhand plays as well. The Rangers turned two double plays in the game. Colbaugh threw out two runners trying to steal.
Unaka’s Thomas Hardin had a big day at the plate, going 3-3 – half of his team’s hit total. Weston Colbaugh, Bales and Rasnick provided one apiece.
Finchum swung the big stick for Greeneville, going 4-4. Hollowell, Tillery and Michael Lane provided two apiece.
Luke Rambo earned the win, pitching all seven innings.
Dugger was upbeat on some stuff despite the loss.
“Josh pitched a great game,” he said. “That the ‘Ras’ we expect to see all the time. He gave us a great shot to win. If they don’t make a couple of those diving catches, then we’re in business. That’s why they’re a very good team.”
— — —
Greeneville 4, Unaka 2
Greeneville 002 000 2 — 4 10 1
Unaka 000 100 0 — 2 4 2
J. Rasnick and Colbaugh. Rambo and King. W—Rambo. L—Rasnick.