The Cyclones committed three costly errors in the early going and Science Hill took advantage for a 10-0 victory Tuesday night at TVA Credit Union Ballpark in a non-conference baseball game that ended the regular season for both teams.
“We gave them plenty of help in that first inning,” Elizabethton coach Ryan Presnell said. “When you’re playing a team that’s one of the better 3A teams in the state and we’re a 2A team, that just can’t happen. When you give five unearned runs to one of the better hitting ballclubs in the state, thats what’s going to happen to you. We’ll adjust and we’ll get better this weekend.”
Elizabethton starter Evan Carter allowed five runs in three innings and all of them were unearned.
The result was the Hilltoppers’ second consecutive 10-0 victory. They beat Unicoi County on Monday night by the same score.
ONE HIT AWAY
The Cyclones (19-8) were a hit or two from scoring in the first three innings, thanks to three Science Hill errors. The difference was the Hilltoppers managed to work out of the jams while Elizabethton couldn’t.
“We had a hiccup or two defensively but we pitched around it,” said Science Hill coach Ryan Edwards, whose team will take a 29-6 record into the postseason.
With Science Hill leading 4-0, Elizabethton put runners on the corners with no outs in the third. A big inning appeared imminent.
Instead, Carter hit a liner to Science Hill first baseman Matthew Levi, who caught the ball and simply stepped on the bag to complete a double play.
Science Hill starter Garrett Wilkins, who worked four scoreless innings, induced a groundout to end the threat.
“That kind of took the wind out of our sails,” Presnell said. “The one thing I want us to do a better job of is when that happens, we have to find a way to put the pressure back on. We really never pressured them. Somebody’s got to come up with the big one. Hopefully we’re saving them all up for the tournament.”
Science Hill’s Zach Copenhaver lined a two-run triple to right field in the first inning. He also walked and singled.
Chance Hall had two doubles, while Kolten Keller scored three times.
Levi was probably a little more bruised than his teammates following the game. He went to bat three times and was hit by a pitch twice. He also had a double.
Garrett Stiltner had the distinction of being walked twice in the fourth inning as the Hilltoppers batted around and scored five times.
The Hilltoppers open the District 1-AAA tournament Saturday. They take on the winner of a game between Cherokee and Dobyns-Bennett at 11 a.m. at J. Fred Johnson Stadium in Kingsport.
“Right now I feel like we’re locked in and it will carry right into Saturday,” Edwards said. “Hitting comes and goes. As long as our pitching and defense shows up every day we always have a chance. Then we can roll with it when the hitters are hot.”
The Cyclones are set for the District 1-AA tournament, being played at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.