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Vikings top 'Toppers to force extra game

Jeff Birchfield • May 9, 2018 at 9:49 PM

KINGSPORT — Tennessee High pitcher Zach Anderson brought Science Hill's romp through Big Seven Conference opponents to a screeching halt on Wednesday evening at J. Fred Johnson Stadium.

With Anderson scattering five hits in a complete game, the Vikings beat the Hilltoppers 3-2 to deny Science Hill the District 1-AAA baseball title and force a winner-take-all championship game on Thursday at 6 p.m.

Science Hill coach Ryan Edwards couldn't say enough good things about the Vikings' talented sophomore, who stayed ahead on the count most of the game.

"Their pitcher pitched a great game and he kept us in check the whole game," Edwards said. "I'm going to tip my cap to that guy. It was a great performance on his part and a great performance by Tennessee High. We've played them four times, they're a great team which has won 30 games. It's hard to beat a team like that four out of four times. I'm going to tip my hat to them and we're going to come back ready for the next game."

The Vikings improved to 30-8, while the Hilltoppers fell to 31-7.

Science Hill's Garrett Wilkins went 3 1/3 innings, giving up two runs and four hits. Jack Emling pitched the final 3 2/3 innings, allowing just a run and three hits. Even though Tennessee High twice hit into double plays, Emling suffered the loss.

The Vikings got the winning run in the sixth inning after C.J. Hess hit a hard ground ball to center field. Tennessee High nearly got another run across, but Science Hill catcher Zach Copenhaver tagged Ryan Gibson at the plate.

Jason Vanhoy had an RBI single in the first inning and Hess had a bases-loaded walk to score runner Lance Tudor in the second.

But, it was Anderson who most were talking about after the game.

"He had the composure of a senior tonight," Tennessee High coach Preston Roberts said. "All three pitches were working and he kept them off balance. He came earlier in the year when we needed him against D-B in a big conference game and proved himself well. He was ready and prepared for tonight and threw a heckuva ball game. We felt like he would give us a chance and, boy, he did."

Anderson was throwing low in the strike zone and managing his off-speed pitches.

Kolton Keller was 2-for-3 with a double and a single. Science Hill's two runs came off a 6-3 groundout by Chance Hall to score Cade McCoy in the fourth inning and McCoy's sacrifice fly to center field to score Caleb Marmo in the fifth.

However, the Hilltoppers missed scoring opportunities with runners stranded at third base in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. With the game down to the wire in the seventh, Anderson threw his sixth strikeout of the game and then the Hilltoppers popped up two fly balls to short center field.

"We had a chance at the final at-bat, but we didn't execute in certain situations," Edwards said. "Credit their guy. He pitched a great game."

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