Cade Elliott’s two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning tied the game, and Eric Rigsby scored on a wild pitch in the eighth as Boone rallied for a 3-2 victory over Dobyns-Bennett on Monday night.
“That’s why we preach seven full innings,” Hoover said. “It wasn’t looking good for us early, but you play the full game because you never know what’s going to happen. I’m proud of them for that.”
Elliott’s double down the right field line almost won the game. It came with the bases loaded and after the first two runners scored, Matt Cox was thrown out at the plate on a bang-bang play.
Cox, Boone’s pitcher, dusted himself off and struck out the side in the top of the eighth inning, setting up the dramatic ending. He pounced off the mound after the last strikeout, pumping his fist and yelling encouragement to his teammates.
“I had to go back out there and compete,” Cox said. “I had a lot of adrenaline.”
Rigsby led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a triple to right field and scored the winning run one out later when Tanner Doran’s pitch bounced away from catcher Will Gladson.
Boone improved to 16-9 overall and assumed second place in the Big Seven Conference with a 7-4 league record. Dobyns-Bennett fell to 18-12, 6-5.
“We just didn’t score enough,” Indians coach Ryan Wagner said. “You hold them to two hits through seven innings and you should win the game.”
Dobyns-Bennett starter Brogan Beckner gave the Trailblazers fits for most of the night, striking out 12 in 6 1/3 innings before being lifted because of the pitch-count rule. He had thrown 117 pitches and pitchers are not allowed to throw more than 120. Wagner said he didn’t want to have to make the switch in the middle of an at-bat.
Beckner held Boone to two hits and left with a 2-0 lead.
“Brogan’s done great,” Wagner said. “He did a heck of a job. He should have won the ballgame.”
The Indians got on top in the second inning when Isaac Whitehead doubled and scored on John Deason’s sacrifice fly. Whitehead’s slide narrowly beat the tag of Boone catcher Ben Allen, who took a strong throw from Elliott in right field.
Dobyns-Bennett doubled its lead in the fifth inning when Jaden Alderson’s sharp single scored Cannon Ferrell.
Alderson’s hit was the last base runner the Indians had. Cox retired the final 10 batters he faced.
“We had some big at-bats at the end, but those don’t matter unless Matt Cox continues to pitch,” Hoover said. “He went out there each inning and just focused on what he had to do and gave us a chance.”
Cox allowed four hits and struck out six batters.
The two teams will play again Tuesday in Kingsport in a game that will have big ramifications for seeding in the District 1-AAA tournament.