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Science Hill downs Karns for state tournament berth

Jeff Birchfield • Updated May 19, 2018 at 10:10 PM

A major question facing the Science Hill baseball team was how could the Hilltoppers match up with Karns ace Trevor Adams in Saturday's Class AAA sectional game at TVA Credit Union Ballpark? The question should have been how could the Beavers match up against Science Hill ace Brandon Feathers.

Feathers amassed 11 strikeouts and gave up just two hits as the Hilltoppers won 4-0 over the Beavers to earn the school’s first state tournament berth since 2010. 

“This is one of the most special teams I've had in over 20 years of coaching," Science Hill coach Ryan Edwards said after his team improved to 35-7. "This group has so bought into being a family and I couldn't be more proud of them.

"We have Brandon Feathers leading the way, and he's a gamer. He led the way and then the at-bats we had in the fourth inning were unbelievable at-bats. They knew if they gave Feathers some runs, we had a chance to win because he's tough."

With a pair of shutdown performances by Feathers and another from Garrett Wilkins, Science Hill outscored its opponents 13-0 through the regional and sectional rounds of the Class AAA tournament.

For his part Saturday, Feathers had everything working from his high fastball to a curveball. It wasn't a walk in the park by any means. The senior right-hander worked his way out of a pair of bases-loaded jams in the first and fifth innings.

"I just had to go out there and trust Coach Edwards," Feathers said. "He did a great job scouting them and we stayed a step ahead. I just had to execute my pitches and we got outs. To go to state, all the pressure is off our shoulders. We feel we have one of the best bullpens in the state. There's no doubt in my mind, who steps on the rubber, the other team has a handful."

TRUE TEAM EFFORT

All four runs came in the fourth inning.

Ben Grable got on base with a walk and Cade McCoy followed by working his way from an 0-2 count to also earn a walk, leading to the Science Hill breakthrough.

The next three batters all came up and drove in runs. David Bryant had an RBI double, followed by Chance Hall's two-run double and Kolton Keller's RBI single.

"I knew I just had to get out there and battle for our team," McCoy said about his crucial at-bat to set the table. "He had command of his fastball all day, so I had to battle. We always talk about when we execute, it's pouring kerosene on the fire and gets us going. I can’t believe what it feels like knowing we're going to state."

In addition, Grable made a running, diving catch to deny Karns of a sure base hit in the sixth inning and Zach Copenhaver and Garrett Stiltner made key outs, grabbing fly balls in a pressure-packed seventh before Feathers made a fitting end with his 11th strikeout.

Keller finished 2 for 3 as the only Hilltopper with multiple base hits. Caleb Marmo had the team's first hit with a single in the third inning.

NOT DONE YET

Edwards told his team after the game it was good to get to the state tournament, which starts on Tuesday, but the goal is to now win it. Inspired by witnessing the recent celebration of Science Hill's 1998 state championship team, coincidentally on a day the Hilltoppers lost 5-3 to Karns, Edwards sees this team capable of having the same kind of storybook ending.

"We're setting our sights on going down there and winning that thing," Edwards said. "It goes back to one game at a time. We will enjoy this today, but we will be ready for Tuesday."

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