By Matt Myers
The Unicoi County Blue Devil’s combined non-parallel offensive production and excellent pitching to top Ole Barn Restaurant 16-1 in the first installment of Thursday night’s Elizabethton National doubleheader from T.J. Burleson field.
The win was the twenty-second on the year for the sluggers’ from Erwin, giving them the best record in the Cal Ripken division.
The slugfest that would lead to 16 blue and white colored runs began with a Fisher Abbott tworun homer over the cente field fence in the top of the first. Three RBI’s in succession by way of Justin Laughren’s single to center, Hunter Duncan’s ground-rule double over the centerfield fence and Garrett Bratton’s RBI single helped to give the Devils a 6-0 lead through just two Innings at the Lions Field complex.
If the picture isn’t quite clear yet, the Blue Devils (22-2) were in a blatantly offensive mood.
The third inning also became property of Unicoi as an in-park homer from Laban Peterson, combined with a centerfield home run from Duncan, led to a 9-0 Blue Devil lead through three. Brattton’s no-hit pitching served to keep the Ole Barn gang off the board until a balk earned them their only run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Clay Simpson’s three run shot in the top of the fourth secured the win for the Blue Devils as the 13-0 lead proved to be insurmountable after Ole Barn’s next at-bat.
Beef O’Brady’s …………. 7
Unicoi …………………….. 0
Gritty, methodical, patient, any of these adjectives could have described Beef O’Brady’s victory over Unicoi in nightcap.
Evan Sewell provided just enough offensive fireworks early, and Nick Hurley turned in a picturesque 14-strikeout, one-hit performance that allowed the green and black charges to outlast their well- disciplined opponents from Erwin.
Sewell’s two-run shot in the top of the first inning, a deep fly ball over the centerfield scoreboard, allowed Beef O’Brady’s to pull out to a 4-0 lead and capture most of the game’s momentum.
Then the rain came, and the defense began.
After a 90-minute delay due to inclement weather conditions, the contest took on a distinctly defensive tone.
Hurley became the personification of that defensive tone as the youngster implored a devastating outside fastball to sink batter after batter through the next four innings.
The Blue Devils simply could not engineer enough offensive production, as three consecutive at-bats encompassed no more than four hitters. First baseman Hunter Johnson, catcher Sewell and second baseman Colton Miller all combined as Hurley’s supporting cast defensively, with the result being the eventual shutout.
In the top of the sixth, Beef O’Brady’s (12-3) needed insurance, and like good neighbors Johnson, Hurley, and Miller were there.
Consecutive doubles from Johnson and Hurley set the stage for Miller’s RBI single to score Hurley and give the green and black charges a touchdown lead they would not relinquish.