By Trey Williams
Unicoi County’s baseball team moved into a second-place tie in the Upper Lakes Conference with a 7-5 defeat of Sullivan East on Wednesday in Erwin.
The Blue Devils (3-3, 9-9) took a three-run lead with three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. It was the second time in three days Unicoi County defeated the Patriots (3-3, 12-5). Tuesday’s game was postponed due to rain.
Brayden Hendrickson had two hits, including his first home run of the season, and three RBIs. Catcher Valentin Batrez had three hits. Nicky Satterly gave the Blue Devils the lead with his bases-loaded single in the fifth inning.
Chris Chavez pitched three innings of relief. He allowed one run on three hits while striking out two.
Starting pitcher Eli Nelson went four innings. He allowed four runs on six hits and struck out four.
“Nelson did a great job in his starting role,” Unicoi County coach Chad Gillis said. “He faced a tough lineup in East and he got the outs we needed to keep us in the game. Offensively, we put together nine hits off a good arm (Dylan Bartley). Brayden’s home run gave us a three-run lead and the lift we needed to win this game.
“Outside of one inning, we made all the plays defensively. It wasn’t a clean game by any stretch, but we got it figured out and came out on top in the end.”
Unicoi County will essentially return its entire roster next season, but this year’s team is coming of age quickly.
“I’m proud of the way our guys played (against East),” Gillis said. “It’s sometimes tough to win a big game on a Monday, have a rainout, and come back Wednesday with the same intensity. Our guys earned two quality wins against a tough conference opponent.”
The Blue Devils dropped an 8-4 decision to Chuckey-Doak on Friday.
Hendrickson allowed two runs on two hits while striking out seven in 4 1/3 innings. Chavez (1-1) took the loss in relief.
The game was tied, 2-2, in the sixth.
“At this point, we had a couple miscues with runners on base,” Gillis said. “We competed well to this point and Hendrickson kept their loaded lineup at bay. Hendrickson was impressive in his outing today. He fell behind some early which ran his pitch count up, but he looked really good. He is working into starter shape, which was our goal to begin with. He should be ready to go by the time the tournament rolls around.”
Hendrickson also led the way at the plate with two hits.
Unicoi County bounced back on Saturday to defeat Happy Valley, 9-0.
Alex Green (1-2) got the victory on the mound. He struck out 11 en route to a three-hitter.
“Alex had a dominating performance on the mound,” Gillis said.
Hendrickson hit his second home run of the season during the two-hit game. Batrez also collected two hits, including his sixth home run of the season.
Chavez piled up three hits, as did Satterly. Tanner Berry had two hits.
“We did well offensively against Happy Valley with 14 hits and two home runs,” Gillis said. “I thought we bounced back well today after a tough loss on Friday.”