Stiltner poked a two-run single to left field in the fourth inning, giving the Hilltoppers all the offense they needed, and they went on to beat Jefferson County 2-0 in the Region 1-AAA semifinals Monday night at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.
Stiltner didn’t play in Science Hill’s victory over Tennessee High for the District 1-AAA championship, but he was ready when his team needed him the most.
“I’d been pressing and I needed to relax,” Stiltner said after his triumphant return to the lineup. “That felt good.”
The Hilltoppers improved to 33-7 and will play at Seymour in the regional championship game on Wednesday. Seymour beat Tennessee High 8-0 on Monday.
Regardless of the outcome of that game, Science Hill will play a sectional game on Friday with a state-tournament berth at stake.
“That’s our goal now,” Science Hill coach Ryan Edwards said. “We want to win this region. We’re not worried about Friday. We’re focused on Wednesday.”
Jefferson County, the District 2-AAA runner-up, finished 23-11.
Science Hill starter Brandon Feathers pitched a two-hit shutout, striking out 10. One of Jefferson County’s hits was a bunt. Only one Jefferson County runner reached second base.
As Jefferson County starter Tyler Shaver was matching Feathers, Science Hill finally got to him in the fourth.
Matthew Levi reached on a one-out infield single before Caleb Marmo belted a double, leaving runners on second and third.
Stiltner then came up with a key two-out hit for the game’s only runs.
“I’ve been believing in Garrett all year,” Edwards said. “I felt like tonight he would be ready to go, and he came through. That was huge.”
Jefferson County’s Austin Edmonds reached base to start the seventh inning when Science Hill catcher Zach Copenhaver dropped a popup in front of the plate.
Copenhaver seemed to catch the ball, but dropped it so quick trying to transfer it for a throw, it appeared he never had possession.
After a brief discussion between the umpires, Edmonds was ruled safe.
He didn’t last long.
Two pitches later, Tanner Woods hit a liner to the mound. Feathers nabbed it and threw to first to double off the runner. Feathers then ended the game with his 10th strikeout.