Their efforts and Alex Elmore’s big day at the plate led to an 8-0 victory in a regular-season finale between two of the most tradition-rich baseball programs in Northeast Tennessee.
In the matchup of programs with four state championships each, Science Hill finished its regular season at 21-11 and Unicoi County fell to 10-17.
Armed and dangerous, Quinn Boyle threw the first two innings for the ’Toppers. Dustin Eatmon had five strikeouts over the next two innings and got the win. Garrett Gleason, Drew Honeycutt and Hunter Phillips followed, pitching an inning apiece.
“Drew has gone out of the bullpen back-to-back days,” Edwards said. “We know he can start, but want to make sure he’s comfortable in the bullpen. That’s who we are. We’re going to be mixing and matching the whole district tournament, using different guys in different situations. We have a lot of guys we can trust and rely on.”
BIG DAY FOR ELMORE
Elmore went 2-for-3 with a two-run home run and a double. He ended with three RBIs and two runs scored to lead the Science Hill offense. On his home run, it was more about trying not to get out than sending it over the left-field fence.
“It was two strikes and I was just trying to protect and put the ball in play,” he said. “It happened to just be a home run. When it left the bat, I knew it was a bomb. When I saw all the guys as I rounded third base, it was great. They’ve been giving me a hard time about practice, saying they don’t count in practice. Now that it happened in the game, it was good to have all them there.”
Lead-off batter Caleb Marmo also finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored, while Landon Slemp and Matthew Levi in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots each had RBIs.
BOTTOM OF THE LINEUP
Ashton Motte drove in a run and also scored. All of the lineup’s No. 6 through 9 hitters — Jackson Hill, Elmore and Jack Torbett — were productive, scoring runs.
“We’re feeling good,” Motte said. “It’s just battling with two (strikes), trying to put the ball in play and do our thing. You come around to score and see all the guys cheering in the dugout and that feels good.”
Edwards added, “Elmore has been swinging the ball well the last 2-3 weeks. Today, he was locked in. Motte has been solid as late as well as Jack in the nine-hole. Our 1 through 6 have been good, but when you get your 7-8-9 going, you feel good, no matter who the team is.”
RUNNING WITH THE DEVILS
It wasn’t that Unicoi County failed to make contact. Often, the Blue Devils hit the ball right at Science Hill’s defense. Brett Strother broke up a no-hitter with a single in the final inning.
“That was good to see from Brett. He’s been struggling with breaking balls,” Unicoi County coach Chad Gillis said. “I told him that he would see that all night because Ryan is a good note taker. So did Ramon Avila and Garrett Manuel. We had some better approaches.”
Jordan Bridges suffered the loss, giving up six runs over 3 1/3 innings. Avila threw the final 2 2/3 innings.
For the Blue Devils, playing back-to-back games against Dobyns-Bennett and Science Hill is a way to get better with the District 1-AA tournament coming up. The victory gave Science Hill momentum and confidence with wins in five of its last six games heading into the 1-AAA tournament.