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Pigeon Forge snaps winning streak

Pigeon Forge snapped the Unicoi County High School baseball team’s five game winning streak with a 9-0 victory on Thursday, April 2, at Baxter Field in Erwin.
Freshman Owen Nicholson was able to register his first varsity hit in the Pigeon Forge contest, while Gabe Thomas and Will Collins each saw time on the mound in the loss.
The Blue Devils (7-4) had the mojo working early last week outscoring league opponents 21-3 to net a pair of Three Rivers Conference wins over Johnson County and Sullivan North. These wins put the team at 4-2 in the league, in a three-way tie with Elizabethton and Sullivan East.
UCHS looked to grab separation in the league on Monday, April 6, and Tuesday, April 7, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline against Elizabethton and Sullivan South. Both contests were on the road.
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Dylan Putman went the distance for the Blue Devils and recorded his second win of the season in a 9-2 victory over the Golden Raiders on Tuesday, March 31, at Baxter Field.
“I just try to focus on what I’m doing, and try to get it done,” said Putman, who retired six batters on strikeouts and tacked on an impressive diving grab late in the contest.
North laced a few shots to the outfield, but never posed a threat after they took a first inning 1-0 lead.
“The defense was a big help,” Putman said. “I couldn’t do it without my defense.”
Head coach Chad Gillis liked what he saw out of his sophomore pitcher.
“He threw well,” Gillis said of Putman. “I was happy he went through seven … he had his curveball working well. They hit him around a little bit, but that’s just hitting spots and we’ll work on that little bit going forward.”
Offense was abundant after Nathan Derry got things rolling with his first home run and grand slam of the season. Fellow senior, Will Hubbard, also cranked a solo shot in the bottom of the fifth.
“We still could have made some adjustments,” Gillis said. “But Derry got us going there. We’ve got to stay consistent at the plate. We showed early that if we don’t hit the ball, we’re not going to put ourselves in a chance to win. Consistency is what we’ve been preaching and everyday we’ve been getting better.”
Nick Fender also stroked a pair of hits and added a stolen base for UCHS.
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The Blue Devils only needed five innings on Monday, March 30, to score a 12-1 decision over the Longhorns in Mountain City.
Sam McInturff picked up the win on the mound on Monday, March 30, allowing just four hits by Johnson County.
While the pitching and defense did their job, the Blue Devils were able to generate a bevy of offense from different outlets, including two RBIs from Putman. Shaddon Peavyhouse, McInturff, Derry, Fender and Hubbard all contributed in the five-inning victory.
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Non-conference games at Baxter Field await the Blue Devils to end this week. UCHS is scheduled host Daniel Boone on Thursday, April 9, at 6 p.m. and Bourbon, Ky., on Saturday at noon.