By Keeli Parkey
The Unicoi County High School baseball team (9-5, 5-1) battled the same team twice last week, but failed to make adjustments at the plate. The Blue Devils fell to Trigg County by one run on both Thursday, April 5, and Friday, April 6.
On Thursday, the Kentucky team defeated UCHS, 3-2, in Kingsport.
“We really struggled at the plate,” Blue Devil head coach Chad Gillis said. “We went to the plate time after time and never made adjustments.”
Starting the game on the mound for UCHS was Ramon Avila.
“Ramon started this game and did a tremendous job,” Gillis said. “He threw five innings, giving up two runs and striking out two. Ramon has played a major role in keeping some good hitting teams at bay. He reminds me a lot of Caleb Wilson as a sophomore. He doesn’t overpower anybody, but he hits spots and gets ground ball outs.”
Wilson came on in relief and recorded the loss, his first of the season. Wilson is 3-1 on the mound.
“Caleb came in in relief to get some midweek work in,” Gillis said. “Caleb will take the loss, due to a well-placed suicide squeeze.”
Wilson was 2-4 at the plate. Troy Podvin was 3-4.
The next day, the Blue Devils scored three runs early, but couldn’t score again, as they fell to Trigg County, 4-3.
“We came out flat again today, we put up three runs in the second inning then just stopped scoring,” Gillis said. “Our approach was pretty much the same as Thursday and no adjustments were made.”
Podvin took the loss on the mound and was 2-3 at the plate.
“Troy had two innings where he gave up two runs in each inning,” Gillis said. “Troy definitely gave us an opportunity to win, but we couldn’t get timely hits to put runs across the plate.”
Despite the losses, Gillis said there were bright spots for his team last week.
“Our pitching staff allowed only one walk and 28 strikeouts in 18 innings,” he added. “Troy was 11-15 with 5 doubles.”
• • •
After defeating Madison County, 10-0, in Erwin on Monday, April 2, the Blue Devils went on the road and defeated the North Carolina team again – this time by the score of 10-2.
Keaton Casey got the win on the mound, his third of the season, while allowing only 4 hits and throwing 10 strikeouts.
“I felt like Keaton had another great game on the mound,” Gillis said. “He has really been consistent on the mound thus far. He throws a lot of strikes and keeps hitters off balance. Keaton has been an extremely big part of our pitching staff so far. I am very proud of his effort on the mound.”
The Blue Devil offense traveled with the team across the state line.
“We hit the ball well this game,” Gillis said. “We had 10 runs on 12 hits, but we still need to work on our baserunning and timely hitting.”
Podvin was 4-5 with 2 doubles and 2 RBIs. Wilson was 2-4 with 2 RBIs. Brett Strother was 2-3.
• • •
The Blue Devils faced Happy Valley on Monday and Tuesday in Three Rivers Conference play earlier this week.
Ahead for UCHS later this week is a trip to the Sevier County area. The Blue Devils will face Jefferson County at Jefferson County on Thursday, April 12, at 5 p.m.; Pigeon Forge at Pigeon Forge on Friday, April 13, at 5 p.m.; Sevier County at Sevier County at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 14; and Seymour at Seymour on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
The Blue Devils will host Sullivan Central in conference play at 5 p.m. on Monday, April 16, then go on the road to face Central at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17.