ELIZABETHTON — Unicoi County got its wake-up call Monday night, and then delivered one to Elizabethton on Tuesday.
One night after losing to Sullivan East in a game that put Unicoi's Three Rivers Conference title hopes in jeopardy, the Blue Devils bounced back. They overcame nine errors and ended the Cyclones' 12-game winning streak with an 11-5 decision at O'Brien Field.
Unicoi improved to 12-2 in league play and 18-3 overall, tying the Cyclones (12-2, 18-9) for first place in the league. Each team has one game left, with Elizabethton traveling to play Sullivan North and Unicoi at home to face Happy Valley on Monday.
Jonathan Davis (6-1) went the distance on the mound for the Blue Devils, and also added two hits and four RBIs at the plate.
“I was seeing the ball really good today, a lot better than I have been,” said Davis.
It was a slow start pitching-wise as Davis allowed five hits and four runs in the first three innings before settling into a groove.
“I was throwing high a little bit early,” said Davis. “I started trying to get low strikes, and I was able to come back pretty good.”
Davis finished with a six-hitter, totaling nine strikeouts with no walks.
“He made the pitches he needed to make,” said Unicoi head coach Charlie Baxter. “He has good hard stuff, and good soft stuff, too. He's a complete pitcher.”
Baxter said Davis did a good job pitching through the errors, which allowed five extra baserunners in the final three innings but none scored.
“We let down on defense quite often, but he didn't get upset and did a good job minimizing the damage,” said Baxter.
The Blue Devils got on the scoreboard quickly as Ethan Rice tripled off the right field fence in the top of the first inning and scored on Davis' sacrifice fly.
However, the Cyclones had a loud answer. Anthony Ward clubbed a high fly ball that bounced off the top of the green monster in left field and climbed over for a two-run homer.
Unicoi grabbed the lead right back in the top of the second inning. Taylor LaFever doubled and eventually scored on a throwing error. Hunter Burnett later ripped an RBI double to make it 3-2.
In the top of the third inning, the Blue Devils expanded their lead on an RBI single from LaFever. On that play, the ball got past the center fielder and rolled to the fence, allowing two more runs to score for a 6-2 Unicoi lead.
Once again, the Cyclones had a feisty reply. They loaded the bases with nobody out, and Ward slugged a two-run single to make it 6-4. However, Elizabethton wasn't able to push across another run as Davis finished the inning with a pair of strikeouts.
Unicoi made it 8-4 in the fourth, and then broke the game open in the top of the sixth inning. Two walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch plated one run, and then Davis hit a looping two-run single to make it 11-4.
LaFever and Burnett each totaled two hits for Unicoi. Rice scored four runs.
Elizabethton got two hits and four RBIs from Ward while Thomas Miller also added two hits.
Cyclones' head coach Joe Nix said his team didn't capitalize on Unicoi's mistakes.
“That sums it up,” he said. “We watched a lot of pitches with runners in scoring position. And with all those strikeouts, we didn't put pressure on their defense. I feel like we didn't play the style we've been playing.”