At the plate, the Rangers racked up 12 hits as six of their players — Reid Taylor, Devin Ramsey, Bryson Street, Davy Ensor, Nick Nunley, and Daniel Shearl — recorded two apiece. Street and Taylor each had a triple, while Ensor connected a two-run inside-the-park homer.
“We have been seeing the ball well here lately,” said Unaka head coach Tee Blevins. “We have scored a lot of runs this week. I think we scored 15, 16, and now 13.
“Pitchers threw well today, and we played good defense.
On the mound, Unaka senior John Ramsey picked up the win after throwing 3 1/2 innings during which he stuck out nine batters. The senior finished with two hits and two walks against him.
“John Boy (Ramsey) has had tendonitis for like two weeks,” Blevins said. “He has been favoring it a little bit, so we gave him some rest. He wanted to go in today and so he did.”
After Ramsey struck out three batters in the top of the first, the Rangers got rolling as they posted four runs in the bottom of the frame. After a bunt from Taylor allowed teammate Devin Ramsey to make it to third, Unaka’s Street fired a two-RBI single down the first-base line to bring Devin Ramsey and Taylor home. Ensor followed by connecting on a deep shot to left field for his inside-the-park job.
The Rangers pushed their lead to 6-0 in the second as John Ramsey had an RBI single while Shearl scored off an error.
To conserve his pitch count, the Rangers pulled Ramsey in the top of the third and put Shearl on the mound. Unaka, however, following some pitching woes, opted to put Ramsey back in four batters later. Cloudland took advantage of the situation and posted two runs in the third as the Highlanders cut into Unaka’s lead at 6-2. Cloudand’s Bray Christman hit an RBI single in the third, while Cloudland’s Dave Ramey scored off a fielder’s choice.
The Rangers would answer in the bottom of the third with two more runs as Daniel Ensor came to the house off a sacrifice fly from teammate Nolan Bradley. Unaka’s Nick Nunley also scored in the frame.
The Rangers kept their momentum as they scored five runs over their final two at-bats, which included a four-run fifth. Taylor gave Unaka the walk-off run as he brought home Shearl with an RBI single. The fifth also saw Shearl connect on a two-run single.
Unaka’s Joe Slagle pitched the fifth. He finished with a strikeout with one hit and one run against him.
For the Highlanders, Dillon Johnson worked through close to five full innings, totaling five strikeouts. He was relieved by Cloudland’s Josh Stevens late in the final frame.
Thursday’s loss brought the Highlanders’ season to a close. Following a rough start, Cloudland wrapped up its regular season with four straight wins.
“They are grinders,” said Cloudland head coach Cory Rhodes about the Highlanders. “We lost the first 18 or 17 games. But they saw the progress as they got close on some of those games. We got hot at the end of the season. We just ran into a really good team today.”
The Rangers will continue play in the district tournament this Saturday.
Also Thursday, Hampton’s district tournament game against North Greene was postponed due to rain. The two teams are scheduled to meet at 2:30 p.m. on Friday.