Johnson City Press Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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Baxter's 1,022nd win makes him area's winningest coach

April 2nd, 2014 10:53 pm by Jeff Birchfield

Baxter's 1,022nd win makes him area's winningest coach

Unicoi County baseball skipper Charlie Baxter became Northeast Tennessee’s all-time winningest prep coach Wednesday night with the Blue Devils’ 11-1 victory over Sullivan East.

The win was the 1,022nd of Baxter’s coaching career, and he surpassed legendary basketball coach Buck Van Huss for the Northeast Tennessee record. Van Huss compiled 1,021 basketball victories as the head coach at Hampton and Dobyns-Bennett.

It was Baxter’s 809th baseball win to go along with 213 softball victories. The Tennessee Hall of Fame coach has five state championships, four in baseball and one in softball. In addition, Baxter has coached six state runner-up teams.

“I’ve admired Buck all my life,” Baxter said about reaching the milestone. “I appreciate even being mentioned in the same sentence.”

For Baxter’s current group of Blue Devils, the win over their Three Rivers Conference rivals improved them to 6-1 in league play and 12-1 overall. 

Connor Simpson led the way for Unicoi County, both at the plate and on the mound.

Simpson went 3-for-3 with a solo home run and two doubles, racking up five RBIs. As a hurler, he struck out six and walked just one for his fifth win of the seaosn. 

“You couldn’t ask for much more from him,” Baxter said. “He had the runners on base and he got them in. He also pitched a really good game and the guys backed him up in the field, just an overall good game.”

In addition to Simpson’s big night, Ethan Rice finished 3-for-4 for Unicoi. The Patriots, who handed the Blue Devils’ their lone conference loss earlier this season, fell to 4-2 and 9-5 with the loss.

Unicoi County struck early by scoring three runs in the first inning and five in the second. East scored its lone run in the third inning, and Simpson added a solo home run in the fifth inning. 

“We feel fortunate to come out like we did and to score those runs early,” Baxter said. “We really didn’t play well at their place and their pitcher was good. They’re a good team and can beat anybody at any time."

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