Keller hit a ball up the middle in the ninth inning for a walk-off single to score David Bryant and lift Science Hill to a 6-5 win over Tennessee High on Tuesday at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.
That win, coupled with the Hilltoppers’ 14-2 blowout win over the Vikings a night earlier, put Science Hill with a 1 1/2-game lead in the Big Seven Conference baseball standings. The Hilltoppers are 13-3 overall and 6-0 in the league. Tennessee High fell to 13-3 overall, but 3-2 in league play and behind Dobyns-Bennett and Cherokee.
“That final at-bat, I hadn’t had the best day at the plate and I was looking to redeem myself,” Keller said. “I was trying to drive it up the middle and get my runner over since we just had one out. It just happened to work out.”
It worked out for Bryant as well. After he hit a triple in his second at-bat, he was walked three straight times. It proved costly in the ninth as Bryant, who is a fast base runner, stole second to put himself in position for the winning run.
“Every time I was getting walked, I was getting a little frustrated,” Bryant said. “But I have confidence in the people behind me and all throughout our lineup. Coach (Andy) Wallen put it on for me to steal and I said there is no way I’m getting out.”
Science Hill cruised over the first five innings as starting pitcher Brandon Feathers shut down the Vikings and the Hilltoppers had a 5-0 lead. They included solo home runs by Ben Grable and Chance Hall. Grable, Bryant and Matthew Levi all scored runs in the first inning as Keller and Hall provided RBIs.
However, the Vikings roared back in the sixth, taking advantage of four walks by Feathers. Jared Powell scored on a bases-loaded walk, while Nick Dobbins and Ryan Gibson each provided two-run singles.
Feathers pitched 5 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts, giving up three hits, five walks and three runs before giving way to Jack Emling, who gave up the two-run single to Gibson, but nothing else.
“Honestly, I assumed this game would come to a one-run game,” Science Hill coach Ryan Edwards said. “We started out hot. Feathers was pitching great, but they have a good lineup and they wear you down. Next thing, you know it’s 5-3 and a little bit of trouble. Even though they scored it and tied it, I can’t say enough about Jack Emling, the way he settled in.”
TOUGH LOSS FOR VIKINGS
Davis Hall pitched eight innings for Tennessee High, ending with a no decision. Dobbins suffered the loss after giving up the hit to Keller.
The Vikings didn’t agree with a call at first base to end the seventh inning, as a go-ahead run didn’t score when Science Hill turned a double play. Tennessee High had a runner on third again in the ninth inning, but couldn’t get him across home plate.
Science Hill had missed a big scoring opportunity in the sixth with bases loaded.
Hall and Grable each had two hits for Science Hill, while Bryant, Zach Copenhaver and Caleb Marmo also had hits.