By Keeli Parkey
The Unicoi County High School baseball team (4-2, 3-1) dropped a heartbreaker on Monday, March 26, in Erwin.
The Blue Devils found themselves tied, 5-5, with the Sullivan East Patriots in the home half of the seventh inning.
“We had a chance to win it in the bottom of the seventh, but we got too aggressive,” head coach Chad Gillis told The Erwin Record.
East took advantage in the extra innings, outscoring UCHS 4-2 to win the conference game, 11-7.
The Blue Devils had 9 hits, but left 11 runners on base throughout the game.
A bright spot in the game was the performance of senior pitcher Caleb Wilson, who threw 11 strikeouts and did not give up a walk.
“Caleb battled the entire game,” Gillis said. “He really did his job on the mound and gave us a chance to win. Ramon Avila also stepped up in the top of the seventh to get two huge strikeouts and keep the game tied.”
Wilson took a no decision in the loss.
Gillis expects his squad to bounce back from the loss.
“We have some injuries right now that have changed the lineup, but we have kids stepping up all over the field,” he said. “I’m proud of our effort and we will be tough to beat once we remove the errors and mental mistakes. Baseball seasons are long and grueling with many highs and lows. We will overcome this low and move on to great things.”
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Keaton Casey won his first varsity game as a Blue Devil pitcher when UCHS went on the road and defeated David Crockett, 9-4, on Friday, March 23.
“We started off slow, but got the ball rolling in the fifth inning,” Gillis said. “Keaton had a great game on the mound and we hit the ball well. We are still making too many errors on defense, but it didn’t bite us this time.”
The Blue Devils had 14 hits in the win, including Podvin’s second home run of the season.
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The Blue Devils took a 4-0 lead in the first inning over North Buncombe in Erwin on Thursday, March 22, but gave up control of the game when the visitors from North Carolina scored six runs in the second inning.
UCHS battled to an 8-7 deficit by the sixth inning, but gave up 15 runs in the sixth and seventh to fall, 22-7, in non-conference action.
Owen Nicholson and Hunter Higgins were both 3-5 at the plate in the game. Wilson and Troy Podvin were both 2-4. Raben Reed was 2-3. Podvin took the loss on the mound.
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The Blue Devils were scheduled to travel to Sullivan East to face the Patriots again on Tuesday, March 27, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue. They are scheduled to travel to North Buncombe on Thursday, March 29, at 6 p.m.
They will host Morristown East on Saturday, March 31, at 1 p.m. and Madison County at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 2. They will travel to Madison County on Tuesday, April 3, at 6 p.m.