It was needed by the Hilltoppers, who held off a furious rally by the Pioneers in a 7-5 victory Tuesday night at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.
Crockett scored two runs in the sixth and two in the seventh. The Pioneers had the tying run at the plate on multiple occasions, although the play of the game was when Science Hill’s Caleb Marmo rifled in a throw from center field to catcher Ben Edwards, who tagged out Landon Quillen at home for the second out.
“Caleb has a hose and he gunned him,” Edwards said. “I made sure I caught it and put it on him. It was a pressure-packed situation, but it’s something we prepared for. The coaches try to make practice harder than the game, so during the game you’ve done everything that could happen.”
Science Hill improved to 3-0 in the Big Seven Conference and 6-4 overall.
David Crockett coach Spencer Street said there was no hesitation to send the runner in with one out.
“Caleb is a heckuva player and that’s a big league throw,” Street said. “I didn’t hesitate at the time. Maybe you hold him up, but we’re aggressive on the base pads and that’s a chance we take regularly. It takes a perfect throw and Caleb made a perfect throw, not much you can do about it.”
It was still quite the rally by the Pioneers (1-2, 3-5) after falling behind.
Grady Cash, who had three RBIs overall, had pulled Crockett within two with his two-run single a batter earlier.
In the previous inning, Johnny Loyd hit a sacrifice fly and Dakota Stout had an RBI single for the Pioneers. Stout ended 2-for-3, while Luke Adams scored two runs.
Science Hill starter Drew Honeycutt earned the win, giving up six hits and three runs over 5 2/3 innings. Garrett Gleason and Clayton McKenzie pitched in relief before Landon Slemp, who is expected to get to the start Wednesday, came in the final inning for the save.
“I’ve got all the confidence in the world in a lot of guys around here,” Science Hill coach Ryan Edwards said. “Slemp, I have a lot of trust in him, knowing he will throw strikes. They got a hit, but he settled in, got the fly ball and then there was the big play from Marmo. After that, Slemp was able to get the last out.”
The Hilltoppers were productive in building an early lead.
Lead-off batter Cade McCoy was 2-for-3 with a double, a pair of RBIs and a run scored. Matthew Levi finished 2-for-4 with a double and a triple. Connor Hyatt, batting in the nine-hole, kept up his recent hot streak, scoring two more runs, while Edwards tripled. Cole Torbett, running for Gehrig Carcich, also scored two runs.
“Coach really wanted us to stay with our approach,” McCoy said. “We’ve played some tough teams early in the season and I think that’s really made us better. The coaches told us to stay with how we play and play our brand of baseball, and we’ve been on a little bit of a hot streak.”
Cody Wheeley, who gave up three runs and five hits, suffered the loss before Cash came in the final three innings for the Pioneers. Still, there was no hanging their heads after pushing the Hilltoppers to the end.
“This team does not quit,” Street said. “We’re never OK with a loss no matter who it is. That’s a high-caliber opponent. For us to battle back, make it a ball game and be a base hit away from tying it up, I’m very proud of how they competed. I can’t say enough about their will to finish.”
The teams will meet again Wednesday 6 p.m. at David Crockett.