'Toppers blank Indians; Boone loses despite big rally

Jeff Birchfield • May 5, 2018 at 8:46 PM

KINGSPORT — Science Hill baseball coach Ryan Edwards played to his team's strength on Saturday in the District 1-AAA baseball tournament at J. Fred Johnson Stadium.

The Hilltoppers didn't start their ace pitcher or even their No. 2 guy against host school Dobyns-Bennett. Instead, in an effort to save those guys for later games in the tournament, Edwards started Josh Francisco.

How did the strategy pay off? Quite well. Francisco breezed through three innings before Garrett Wilkins, ace Brandon Feathers and Chance Hall finished a four-hit shutout in a 6-0 win over the Indians.

Science Hill will play Tennessee High, 10-9 winners over Daniel Boone, in a winners' bracket game on Monday. Dobyns-Bennett will face Boone in an elimination game the same day.

"I feel one of our strengths is our pitching depth," Edwards said after his team improved to 30-6 on the season. "I didn't want to burn anybody up so I threw some one-inning guys today. I just told them to trust their stuff and go at them. ’Cisco shut them down the first three innings to get us off on the right foot. Chance just trusted his stuff and threw strikes to end it."

For Dobyns-Bennett (22-13), it was a story of missed opportunities. The Indians left nine men on base, stranding runners on third in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings.

"We left a lot out there," Indians coach Ryan Wagner said. "We did some things to put pressure on them early with some base runners, but we just couldn't come up with the clutch hit. Of course, they have a lot of good arms. We just have to find a way to score runs."

D-B starter Max Everett shut the 'Toppers down until Hall singled home David Bryant in the fourth.

The game changed in the sixth when the 'Toppers plated five runs, getting an RBI single by Matthew Levi and Ben Grable’s three-run homer, which also scored Ben Edwards and Cade McCoy.

"All day I had been getting beat by fastballs and I was like, 'Not again,'" Grable said. "I just went up there and did what I needed to do to help the team out."

Cannon Ferrell and Max Everett each went 2 for 3 for Dobyns-Bennett's hits.

Tennessee High 10, Daniel Boone 9

Tanner Booker hit a walk-off single in the eighth inning as the Vikings (28-8) won after the Trailblazers (19-11) had rallied from six runs down in the sixth and seventh innings.

Eric Rigsby spearheaded the rally with a three-run home run in the sixth inning. Overall, Rigsby was 2 for 2 with four RBIs and three runs scored. He was walked a pair of other times and reached base in all five at-bats.

Cade Elliott batted 4 for 5 with two doubles and a pair of runs while Zach Taylor was 3 for 5 with two doubles. KC Vicchio also had two hits, while Easton Harrell in the nine-hole, after getting five RBIs the previous night, scored the game-tying run in the seventh.

Hunter Adams pitched the first four innings for Boone before Ben Allen, Chase Chandler and Elliott came in relief.

Banks Presson led Tennessee High by going 3 for 5 with three RBIs. C.J. Hess went 3-for-5 with an RBI.

Jason Vanhoy was 2 for 5 with two RBIs, Davis Hall and Jacob Orr each went 2 for 4, and Peyton Fox contributed a two-run triple.

Nick Dobbins went 3 1/3 innings for the Vikings, giving up two runs and five hits before Zach Anderson and Presson finished out the scheduled seven innings. Bodhi Baker entered in the eighth and got three-up and three-down to record the win.

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