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Longhorns lose tournament championship to Unicoi

Having given each other their only defeat in the District 1 AA tournament, the tensions were running high in the championship game between the Johnson County Longhorns and the Unicoi County Blue Devils. Both teams put up an amazing fight to gain the upper hand, but after losing the lead in the second inning, the Longhorns could never quite put up the runs needed to take it back. At the same time, Johnson County never gave Unicoi a chance to rest either, remaining just on the verge of taking control through all seven innings.
After a strong performance against Unicoi the day before, Coach Pete Pavusek decided to use Andy Woods once again on the mound. “Andy Woods gave us a chance to win. We did well last night and did great tonight. It was good for the pitching. It gave us another pitcher to look at.” Woods kept the mound for five innings, striking out four batters with no walks, before turning it over to Harley Reece for the last two.
Like other games against Unicoi, the championship was largely a battle of defense. In the first inning neither team gained ground, but by the second a couple of costly defensive errors allowed the Blue Devils to push in two runners. Determined to not let the game get away from them Johnson County managed to put up a run of their own. Judd Hammons was once again a strong batter for the Longhorns, landing three hits and making one run.
Hammons was joined by Harley Reece, Jacob Henson, and Chad Hodgkiss, to give the Longhorns seven hits in all. The good contact, along with Blue Devil errors, allowed Johnson County to pick up two more runs in the third. Unfortunately, Unicoi did the same and by the fourth, the Longhorns were still behind by one.
The game slowed down even more in the later innings, with both teams making base advancements but at the same time fighting to keep their defenses on top. In fact the only other run in the whole game was a Unicoi County advancement in the fifth. Down three to five in their last turn at bat, the Longhorns knew they had to make a last push if they wanted to succeed.
Fans were treated to another tense moment as Johnson County gained their first out quickly, but then managed to put the two runners they needed to even score on base. Andy Stout was the last batter to come up to plate, and as Unicoi’s pitcher slowly worked up the count, the Longhorns started to get desperate for another big hit. With two outs still left fans were crossing their fingers that Johnson County might continue to make history by pulling off a narrow win. Unfortunately, the hit that finally came also brought with it the Longhorns final doom, and as Stout made his run for first he became the second out in a swift Unicoi double play that brought the game to its end.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.