CHURCH HILL — Headed into the bottom of the seventh inning Wednesday night, a berth to the Region-1 AAA baseball tournament was Daniel Boone’s to lose.
Unfortunately for the Trailblazers, that’s just what happened.
Science Hill exploited a plunk, a walk and two Daniel Boone errors to crush the ‘Blazers hopes with a 3-2 comeback win in District 1-AAA elimination action at Volunteer.
Reed Hayes’ RBI single — which plated Jacob Pardue for the 2-2 tie — was only the third hit allowed by star-crossed Boone pitcher Daniel Cox (5-3).
Addison Adams ended the game when he swung into an error at third that plated Will Craig for the winning run. As fate would have it, Craig got on board with an earlier E-5.
The fashion of the unraveling couldn’t have made it much more nauseating for the Trailblazers (20-15). It was third baseman Jacob Davis’ two-run blast over left center in the sixth inning that gave Boone the 2-1 edge headed into the final frame.
The onset of steady rainfall through the fourth, fifth and into the sixth innings wetted down the infield significantly before it finally slacked off.
The moistened brick dust might have een a factor in the misplays, but Boone coach Rob Hoover made no excuses.
“Give credit to them. They put a lot of pressure on you. They found a way to win,” said Hoover. “I just hate to see us go out with a chance to win in the seventh. It’s tough to swallow.”
Cox gave up six walks — including an intentional to Craig in the fifth — but that didn’t keep him from isolating three Hilltoppers runners in scoring position over five shutout innings.
He gave up his first a run on Hayes’ RBI fielders’ choice in the fifth. He evaded greater damage, leaving three Science Hill runners stranded.
Pardue was hitless, but hardly witless. The pitch the cunning Johnson City left fielder got hit by in the seventh was the second plunk he’d absorbed off of Cox.
“What’s funny, a previous at-bat I thought one hit his jersey and I told him to sell it better so I could at least go out there and talk. Then he tried to sell one that didnt’ hit him,” said Science Hill coach Ryan Edwards, laughing. “But he got that (last) one and he hustled down there. So I was proud of him.”
Hayes got the start for Science Hill, pitching four shutout innings. Craig (6-2) took over in the fifth.
Despite giving up the shot to Davis in the sixth inning, Craig did more than enough to earn his win. In prelude to scoring the winning run, he retired the ‘Blazers in order, striking out two, in the top of the seventh.
Craig started the game at third base, from where he executed his most memorable play of the game. His diving catch over the fence in foul territory for the first out elicited a gasp from the crowd.
“I was afraid he’d come down on his neck or something. That was an unbelievable catch,” Edwards said.
Science Hill (28-8) will face Dobyns-Bennett at Volunteer today at 5 p.m. A second game will follow in the event of a Hilltoppers win.