It sure did Tuesday night at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.
Chance Hall grounded a two-run single past a drawn-in infield in the bottom of the sixth inning, lifting Science Hill to a 3-1 win over Dobyns-Bennett in a Big Seven Conference contest.
The Hilltoppers (18-3) won their seventh straight game and earned their second key league sweep in as many weeks. They took a firm grasp of first place in the league with an 8-0 mark.
“It’s still early,” said Hilltoppers head coach Ryan Edwards. “It’s April 10, and we want to be playing our best ball in May. We’ve still got time to get better in a lot of areas.”
In the first and fourth innings, the Indians totaled three chances with a runner on third base and less than two outs. In two of those three spots, D-B couldn’t push the run across.
Meanwhile, Science Hill made the most of its best opportunity with Hall’s clutch hit, which came on a 3-2 pitch.
“I was just trying to go up the middle with it, trying to put something in play because we had guys on second and third, no outs,” said Hall. “I didn’t know if I got it through (the infield) or not, but when it went through I knew I could take second base.”
Hall also had arguably the game’s best defensive play, making an over-the-shoulder grab of Max Everette’s long fly ball to left field to end the sixth inning with a runner on third base.
Science Hill’s Garrett Wilkins and D-B’s Matt Taylor were locked in quite a duel. Each pitcher surrendered just one run through five innings.
Wilkins escaped the sixth, thanks to relief help from Jack Emling, who earned the win by retiring all four batters he faced on just 13 total pitches.
“Garrett battled his tail off the entire game,” said Edwards. “He made some great pitches. And I can’t say enough about Jack Emling, the way he came in and trusted his fastball and got after it out there.
“Coach (Tim) Vanthournout gets these pitchers ready to go. He took over the pitching last year, and we’ve seen amazing results.”
Wilkins worked 5 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and one unearned run. He walked one and struck out four.
Taylor gave up just three hits in five innings with one walk and six strikeouts. He was hurt by a potential double-play grounder in the sixth inning where both runners were safe and both wound up scoring on Hall’s single.
Hitters take a back seat
Neither team had a player with multiple hits in the game. The Indians actually outhit the Hilltoppers 9-5 in the two-game series, but couldn’t turn the advantage into victories.
“We’re just not taking advantage of opportunities,” said D-B head coach Ryan Wagner. “We’ve got to be tougher. We can’t ask for anything better from our pitchers: two hits last night and three hits tonight. We should have at least had a split. But we will get better from these games.”