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Blue Devils clinch second seed

Sam McInturff made his senior night at Unicoi County High School a highlight-worthy evening.
The Blue Devil went the distance on the mound, knocked in a two-run home run and scored on a passed ball in his team’s 4-1 win over Elizabethton on Monday, April 27, at Baxter Field.
The victory allowed the Bule Devils (16-9) to take over sole control of second place in the Three Rivers Conference, finishing 9-3 in the league.
Following senior night festivities prior to the game, it came down to business once the first pitch came across the plate, according to Blue Devil head coach Chad Gillis. UCHS held senior night for four Blue Devils: McInturff, Nathan Derry, Will Hubbard and Cody Jack Rogers.
“They knew what we had to do and knew what we had to depend on,” Gillis said of his upperclassmen. “This game was important and we didn’t want to fall into third. They came out and played hard. We had those festivities before the game, but as we were going out on the field, they were saying ‘I just want to play.’ I knew they were ready to play and hopefully this night meant a lot to them in a big situation and make it to where this is not their last home game.
“We had some hits throughout the game and we played well defensively. Our defense has been our strong part. When we have Sam, or any of our pitchers on the mound, we put ourselves in a position to win as long as we can hit. This was a really big win tonight for us.”
In the first inning, shortstop Shaddon Peavyhouse knocked in Nathan Derry on a hit for an RBI, but the Cyclones struck back with a run to keep things tied at 1-1 heading to the third.
McInturff let his quick feet take control, heading to home plate on a passed ball to move ahead 2-1.
“We knew this was a big game,” McInturff said. “This determined if we were second in the conference or not. We just wanted to have a lot of energy, a lot of focus and come out here to win the ball game.”
Gillis had nothing but praise for his senior slugger, who knocked in his second home run in a less than a week on a two-run shot in the fifth.
“He threw well,” Gillis said. “He’s been a strong point for us all year long.”
The Blue Devils will take on Sullivan North on Friday, May 1, at J.Fred Johnson Stadium in Kingsport in the District 1-AA baseball tournament. First pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
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Madison County scored a shutout over the Blue Devils, 6-0, on Saturday, April 25, but saw a tough outing from Troy Podvin at the plate, Gillis said.
UCHS earned a hard fought 6-5 win over Madison County on Friday, April 24, in Erwin, thanks in part to a walkoff RBI base hit from Rogers in the seventh inning.
The Blue Devils also had solid performances on the hill from Derry, Caleb Wilson and Clay Simpson.
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UCHS opened last week with an 11-1 victory over Happy Valley and 9-8 nailbiter against Johnson County.
The Blue Devils also added a trip to Pigeon Forge during the busy stretch of games with the Tigers scoring an 11-2 win.
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The Blue Devils had games against Dobyns-Bennett and David Crockett on Tuesday and Wednesday, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline, to prep for the upcoming district tournament.