Science Hill has taken a big first step in the search for its second consecutive state baseball championship.
After a solid exit from starting pitcher Nate Conner and a three-pointer to clear catcher base Owen Painter, the Hilltoppers beat David Crockett 6-3 in Sunday’s District 1-4A playoff game at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.
That sets the meeting between Science Hill (31-5) and Dobyns-Bennett (21-11) in the final of the winning group on Monday. David Crockett (11-21) will face rival Daniel Boone (11-20) in the elimination match.
Conner gave just four goals and two runs during six innings. Hill Science coach Ryan Edwards felt confident going with Conner instead of Cole Torbett or Gavin Briggs, who started the games with more pressure.
“He played great and hit his spots all day,” Edwards said. “It was a brave performance. Every game breaks your nerves, but if you go to the first game of the tournament, it adds even more pressure. Although he did not impose much at the conference, he fought against many good teams outside the conference and proved to be a quality starter. “
Painter’s triple in three rounds in the fourth inning was the difference on the day both teams scratched seven goals. Torbett added a sacrifice when the Hilltoppers opened the 5-1 lead.
“We got together to get some good sticks in that change,” Edwards said. “Even the last change, the race we won in the sixth shift, was big. The equalization would be on the basis if it were not for that. Every post-season ride is great. ”
Edwards was referring to RBI double Landon Smelser scored by Jet Swartz, who competed for Painter. That’s a big change from the lineup at the start of the season. With Jack Torbett and Painter returning from injury and others replacing him, this has given Science Hill extra depth this part of the season.
Conner managed to prevent the ‘Toppers from getting deep into the column. He helped his goal with an RBI double to pay Jaxon Diamond for the first round of the game at the bottom of the first. As for his day at the mound, he simply stuck to the familiar game plan.
“I just trusted Coach Edwards. He had a good reconnaissance plan, ”Conner said. “I just tried to throw shots, hit points and trust the defense. We have a good team and if they hit the ball, we will play. ”
Leader David Crockett Garrett Leonard joined Smelser as the only player to have multiple goals. Jacob Ayers had an RBI single to equalize at the top of the fourth. Falling for fourth place in sixth, Jobe Hannecken stood out on the line to the left field for Caleb Bradburn’s second run.
Leonard scored Noah Oster in the seventh, and Crockett finished the game with a tie. Still, they failed to stretch out the bats enough.
“We haven’t been able to put pressure on them,” Pioneers coach Spencer Street said. “I would like to be in a position to scratch one or two more (runs) here or there. We let them off the hook in the fifth inning when (Conner) came out with four. I would like to extend that change. “
Although he did not win, Ayers did a great service to his team by crossing the distance up the hill. Street was shy about who could throw against Boone in the elimination game.
“To be able to last the whole game, it was huge,” Street said. “He fought and was strong. He bounced off a tough change, if you subtract that change, this game has a different look. We mostly played good defense.
“We have several options for tomorrow, left or right, so we’ll see. It could be someone who didn’t sell much. “