If Will Craig doesn’t beat you with his arm, there’s a good chance he’ll do it with his bat.
The Science Hill senior left the mound Wednesday trailing Dobyns-Bennett 2-0 after allowing two unearned runs in five innings. But Craig delivered a walk-off RBI double in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 5-4 Science Hill victory at Cardinal Park.
It was the second double the 6-foot-3, 212-pounder delivered after moving from the mound to third base. Craig finished 2-for-2 with two RBIs and two walks, including an intentional pass during a three-run sixth that tied the score at 4.
“I was upset because I gave my team a chance to win, but I feel like I could’ve done better pitching,” Craig said. “But at the same time, I was like, ‘(Relief pitcher) Daniel Sweeney will go out there and pepper the zone and we’ll be right behind him the best we can.’ We were down at Oakland and made a comeback with two outs in the seventh, so I knew we had the will to make a comeback.”
Science Hill improved to 2-0 in the Big Eight Conference and 5-2 overall.
D-B (3-1, 4-1) went ahead 2-0 in the fifth. Sammy Salyers reached on a two-out walk and scored when right fielder J.T. Torbett couldn’t hold Sammy Stewart’s fly ball at the wall. Mason Ewers’ single through the middle scored Stewart.
Science Hill shortstop Kyle Wilson led off the bottom of the fifth with a double and scored on Craig’s one-out double, but D-B made it 4-1 when Peyton Marshall hit a two-run home run off Daniel Sweeney after another two-out walk.
Wilson had an RBI double during Science Hill’s three-run sixth.
“Kyle’s clutch,” Craig said. “He’s already come up with two or three big-time hits that we needed in key games.”
Wilson finished 2-for-4 with a walk, an RBI and stolen base. The one-out double down the third-base line, which made the score 4-2 and put the tying run at second base, was the most timely.
“We needed some life, and Kyle’s been a great leader for us on and off the field all year,” Hilltoppers coach Ryan Edwards said. “And I tell you what, it wasn’t a surprise that it was him to get us going in that situation.”
Addison Adams led off the Hilltoppers’ sixth with a single off the right-field wall. Torbett and Tucker McPherson also had hits in the in the sixth. McPherson’s was a two-run, bad-hop single off the face of shortstop Chris Cook.
McPherson scored the winning run on Craig’s double to right-center after reaching on an error. D-B coach Ryan Wagner didn’t want to intentionally walk Craig again.
“You don’t want to put the winning run on second base there,” Wagner said.
Craig got a first-pitch fastball up out of the strike zone.
“It was a good pitch,” Craig said. “I just got lucky, got it up in the wind and it took out to right-center.”
McPherson was 3-for-5. Torbett and Reed Hayes were each 1-for-3 and hit by a pitch.
Defense helped Science Hill, too. Torbett made a diving catch to retire Christian Bailey for the first out with a runner on first in the fourth. Third baseman Matthew Beaird made a hard play with a bare-handed pickup and throw to first in time after Marshall had led off the fifth with a good bunt, and catcher Connell Boyle backed up first base and threw out Austin Dayton at second base when he tried to advance on a throwing error for the second out in the sixth.
Sweeney (1-1) allowed two runs in three innings for the victory. He struck out four and walked one. Edwards said he challenged Sweeney after he gave up two runs thanks to the two-out walk in his first inning.
“He was trying to be too fine instead of pitching to contact,” Edwards said. “He went back out there and gave us two great innings. I was really proud of Daniel.”
Craig struck out five while allowing four hits and a walk in five innings. Edwards wanted to keep him around 80 pitches.
“We had a chance to win when he left the game,” Edwards said. “You can’t ask for anything more than that.”
D-B starter Logan Gentry allowed four runs (one earned) in six innings. He was pitching on guts perhaps the last 15-20 of his 99 pitches. The Indians beat Sullivan South 7-6 in 13 innings on Tuesday.
“We were a little shorthanded after going 13 last night,” Wagner said. “Two relief guys went 50-plus (pitches). We just felt like he had some of ‘em’s number and we kept him in there as long as we could. We didn’t overuse him, and he did a great job for us.”
Sophomore Caleb Cook (1-1), who pitched a one-hitter Friday against Hardin Valley, took the loss.
Science Hill hosts Murfreesboro Siegel for a noon doubleheader on Saturday.