KINGSPORT — If Tuesday night’s Big Eight Conference showdown between traditional powers Dobyns-Bennett (3-1, 3-1) and Science Hill (4-3, 3-1) was any indication of the race ahead, then hang onto those baseball caps very tightly.
D-B rallied from a 3-1 deficit and won the game 4-3 on Will Allen’s two-run double down the left field line and Elijah Sutherland single to left in the sixth inning. The Indians’ Aaron Quillen outdueled Science Hill’s Will Craig on the mound.
Quillen struck out seven batters and allowed five hits. Craig fanned five and gave up eight hits. Quillen walked two, Craig three.
D-B scored three runs in the seventh. Peyton Taylor walked, Austin Dayton doubled and Allen’s two-out double just inside the foul line drove in both runners. Sutherland’s third hit of the game then plated Allen.
“I was looking for a fast ball,” Allen said. “Craig had just struck out two batters. He threw me an outside fast ball and I kind of did a check swing. The next pitch was an inside fast ball, and I turned on it.”
Science Hill won four of five games against D-B last spring. Allen was enjoying the moment.
“It always feels good to beat Science Hill,” he said. Sutherland had a big night. He doubled, tripled and singled. “Craig’s velocity was good,’’ Sutherland said. “I got each of my hits on fast balls. I just went up there relaxed and hit the ball. Craig got me on a strikeout in the fifth inning with a changeup.”
It was a battle of the coaching Ryans — D-B’s Ryan Wagner and Science Hill’s Ryan Edwards.
“We’ve put Aaron out there in two of the toughest situations (2-1 loss to South and this win). He kept us in striking distance tonight,” Wagner said. “This was our first conference win over Science Hill in a couple of years. We beat (the Hilltoppers) in the Pepsi tournament last year.”
Wagner anticipates a wild scramble as teams bid for the conference title.
“It’s going to be like this all year,’’ he said. “We’ve got to be ready to play every day.”
The defensive play of the night was turned in by Science Hill left fielder Justin Snyder. Taylor drove a pitch 350 feet and Snyder made the catch despite crashing into a metal wall. He actually ripped out a large piece of it.
“That was a great play,” Wagner said.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Quillen dispatched the ’Toppers on 103 pitches.
“The curve ball is my best pitch,” he said, “and I just kept coming with it. My out pitch was a slider. I felt if I could keep the score under four runs, we’d find a way to win. This shows how tough our team is. We can come back from anything.
“You’ve got to keep Science Hill’s batters off balance. You can’t allow them to sit on it.’’
Edwards was proud of the way Craig hung in there.
“He pitched his guts out,” Edwards said. “(The Indians) have a good offensive club, as always. They beat us by staying back and hitting the off-speed pitches.”
Science Hill’s first run came on a single by Craig after Heath Loyd doubled. D-B tied the score on a groundout by Glenn Evans following Sutherland’s triple.
The Hilltoppers took a 2-1 lead on singles by Craig and Jack Reid, and expanded it to 3-1 on an infield hit by Kyle Wilson, a wild pitch and Jacob Pardue’s single.