An infield sprinkler came on during Science Hill’s game against Daniel Boone on Tuesday at Cardnal Park, and a couple of innings later the Hilltoppers sprouted a No. 1 seed.
Science Hill built a 9-1 lead through three innings and held on for a 9-7 victory that clinched a share of the Big Eight Conference title and the top seed for the District 1-AAA tournament, which begins Friday.
The Hilltoppers (12-2, 25-6) and Dobyns-Bennett each finished with two league losses, but Science Hill beat the Indians in both meetings. It has won at least a share of the league title in each of coach Ryan Edwards’ six seasons.
“It’s just fun to do it with kids I’ve grown up playing with as a senior,” said Reed Hayes, who went 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs and pitched the final two innings for his first save of the season.
Hayes lined an RBI single to center field and scored on Addison Adams’ two-run line single during a five-run first. Hayes added an RBI triple high off the left-center field fence in the second. The two-out blast came one pitch after hitting a foul ball far beyond the left-field fence.
“I’ve been hitting it hard right at people, and I’m finally starting to find the gaps and stuff,” said Hayes, a former Tennessee commit who now plans to sign with Walters State.
Boone (9-5, 17-13) beat Science Hill last week and was locked into the No. 3 seed regardless of the rematch’s outcome. But that didn’t stop the Trailblazers from rallying to the point of getting the potential go-ahead run to the plate with two outs in the seventh.
Hayes got Daniel Cox to fly out to end it with runners at first and second. Boone outhit Science Hill 15-7, but the ’Toppers batters drew seven walks and another was hit by a pitch.
“With the way we swung the bats tonight our offense was maybe one of the best nights we’ve had all year,” Boone coach Rob Hoover said. “We were pretty locked in. To get 15 hits against anybody is good, but to get them against the arms that they have, I’m really happy with our hitters.
“The key is the walks. We had six walks and one hit-batsman in the first three innings alone, and I think all seven of those guys scored.”
Hayes allowed one earned run in two innings while striking out three. Grant Rabbitts (4-2) worked 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for the victory.
Science Hill’s Will Craig was 2-for-4 with three RBIs, two line-drive singles and one towering 385-foot fly-out. Adams was 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
Jacob Pardue walked in all four plate appearances, including once with the bases loaded, and scored two runs.
Science Hill’s manager wasn’t surprised to see Boone make a game of it.
“Every game we play with them is close,” Edwards said. “Even though we got up 9-1, I’m not gonna be upset that we only won 9-7, because that’s just how it is when we play Boone. Every game’s gonna be close. ...
“I don’t care what seed we are, but I mean, we’re playing for pride, you know. We’re playing for, ‘Hey, it’s Boone and we want to win.’”
Boone’s Taylor Smith was 3-for-3 with two doubles, a walk and four RBIs. His two-run, one-out single in the sixth concluded the game’s scoring.
“He’s just been a great player for us all four years,” Hoover said.
Cox was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs. Jacob Davis was 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
Jake Littleton and Trey Combest each had two hits. Sophomore Zach Peters hit the ball hard three times and finished with a double and two runs.
“We were third either way ... but I don’t think we’ve ever swept Science Hill in the history of the school,” Hoover said. “So that was obviously a motivating factor for us.”
Science Hill hosts Sullivan Central on Friday at 5 p.m. Daniel Boone will open against David Crockett on Friday.