Johnson City Press Monday, September 1, 2014

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'Toppers fall short at D-B

March 24th, 2014 10:27 pm by Trey Williams

'Toppers fall short at D-B

KINGSPORT – Pitchers Landon Knack and Daniel Sweeney gave Science Hill a chance against rival Dobyns-Bennett, but the Hilltoppers bats couldn’t give opportunity a knock.

Dobyns-Bennett counterpart Logan Gentry outdueled the duo and the Indians scratched out a 3-1 Big Seven Conference victory on a chilly, sunny evening at J. Fred Johnson Stadium.

Gentry, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound right-hander, scattered seven hits and walked one while striking out eight to improve to 3-0 for the Indians (5-0, 8-0).

“I had a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup working for me tonight,” Gentry said. “Usually, my changeup doesn’t really work for me, but it was working tonight.”

Gentry stranded three runners in scoring position, and two of those were thanks to strikeouts. Four ‘Toppers struck out swinging at offspeed pitches.

“He’s the best pitcher we’ve seen to this point,” Science Hill coach Ryan Edwards said. “When he can throw more than one, two or three pitches in any count, I mean, that’s tough to hit. … Especially with runners in scoring position, he starts mixing more and gets even tougher.”

Science Hill (1-1, 4-4) scored in the first inning on Knack’s two-out double. It plated Tucker McPherson, who led off the game with a walk and advanced to second on J.T. Torbett’s sacrifice bunt.

D-B scored two in the fourth when Payton Marshall reached on an error and Christian Bailey followed with a home run to right-center on a first-pitch, outside fastball.

“Since last year, they threw us away a lot,” Bailey said. “And I don’t like guessing, but I had a feeling they were gonna throw us away this year.”

D-B’s Caleb Cook scored Sammy Stewart with a two-out single in the bottom of the fifth. Stewart tagged and advanced to second when Sammy Salyers fouled out to the catcher near the backstop.

Wagner was relieved to see to see D-B manufacture an insurance run against Knack. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound junior right-hander allowed three hits while throwing 66 pitches in 4 2/3 innings.

“He had a little rise to his fastball and had a little jump to it,” Bailey said. “He throws pretty hard. We’d never seen him before and we had trouble adjusting to him.”

Knack walked two, struck out two and allowed two earned runs.

“It wasn’t our best game swinging the bats,” D-B coach Ryan Wagner said, “and I mean, a lot of that’s got to do with their pitching and their catchers and defense and things like that. But we had a couple of big hits.”

Sweeney, a 6-foot-5 right-hander that’s signed with East Tennessee State, relieved Knack with two on and two out in the fifth. He didn’t allow a baserunner while recording the Hilltoppers’ final four outs.

“Sweeney came in and got that big out there to keep the game where it was, and had a good inning there,” Edwards said. “Landon … did a great job. He’s been doing that all year for us and … I just hope he can continue to build on that.”

Knack started a double play by making a sliding catch when Cook popped up a bunt in the first inning. Science Hill sophomore shortstop Jordan Holly made a difficult diving catch to rob Sammy Salyers of a hit with one out and a runner on first in the third.

“My JV coaches and my eighth-grade coach … have told me he’s gonna make his share of mistakes, as anybody (will),” Edwards said, “but he’s gonna make about 10 plays throughout the course of the year that you’re gonna say, ‘How did he do that?’ And there’s the first one.”

Coastal Carolina signee Matthew Beaird went 3-for-3 for Science Hill. Hilltoppers left fielder Addison Adams (1-for-3 with a well-hit fly-out) caught Gentry by surprising when he batted from the right side. Adams said he plans to eventually return to switch-hitting.

“I’ve played with him … since I was probably 10 years old,” Gentry said. “We played on the same travel team. … I was kind of shocked when he came up hitting right-handed.”

Adams singled to right field on a pitch intended to tie him up.

“He did a good job of getting inside-out on that pitch,” Gentry said. “It was a fastball in and I ran it in on his hands, but he got around just enough to push it out to right field.”

Science Hill first baseman Kyle Ouellette was 1-for-3 and made a fairly difficult play look routine while retiring Newley Burton unassisted on a sharply hit ball up the line.

Shortstop Caleb Cook started a crowd-pleasing double play, retiring the speedy Malik Stephens by a half-step to end the game.

Science Hill will host Sullivan Central today in a game that’s been moved up to 5 p.m. D-B will visit Tennessee High today.

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