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Devils hold off Warriors to win title

Blue Devil first baseman Matthew Hatcher tags a Happy Valley Warrior. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)
Blue Devil first baseman Matthew Hatcher tags a Happy Valley Warrior. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

By Keeli Parkey

The 2017 Unicoi County High School baseball team continued the program’s tradition of success by winning the Three Rivers Conference regular season title last week.

Needing to defeat either Happy Valley on Friday, April 28, or Sullivan North on Tuesday, May 2, to secure the crown, the Blue Devils (16-12, 9-2) managed to hold off a late rally by Happy Valley to earn a 3-1 win and the regular season championship last week.

“Beating Happy Valley sealed the top seed for us in the district tournament,” Blue Devil head coach Chad Gillis said. “This was a tough game because we hadn’t played in a week. I felt like we were a little rusty and the guys were trying to get comfortable again. We made some mistakes trying to be too aggressive on the bases, but the kids were thinking and that’s a good thing. Overall, I’m pleased with the outcome.”

The Blue Devils took a 1-0 lead over the Warriors on Friday when Shaddon Peavyhouse’s hit scored Nick Fender during the top half of the first inning. They scored their last two runs of the game during the fourth inning when Troy Podvin and Cameron Spires scored.

Trailing in the bottom half of the seventh and final inning, the Warriors loaded the bases, but Peavyhouse, who was brought on in relief for Dylan Putman, ended the game with a strikeout to secure the win for UCHS.

Putman earned the win on the mound for the Blue Devils.

“It was good to see Putman and Peavyhouse get good work in,” Gillis said.

Podvin went 2-for-3 at the plate.

The conference championship gives the Blue Devils the number-one seed in this week’s District 1-AA tournament.

“I am excited for my guys in winning a conference championship,” Gillis said. “This was a goal they all had set in February and they accomplished that goal. I am looking forward to the tournament and, hopefully, the weeks beyond.”

UCHS will open the tournament, which will be played at Dobyns-Bennett in Kingsport, on Saturday, May 6. The time of their opening game and opponent were yet to be determined at the press deadline for this issue.

District tournament play will continue into next week.

• • •

The Blue Devils traveled to Pigeon Forge for a game on Monday, May 1, and to Sullivan North on Tuesday, May 2, following The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue.

They are scheduled to end the regular season on Wednesday, May 3, with a game at David Crockett beginning at 6 p.m.