Or perhaps the singular, “inch.”
Peyton Domby’s bid for a three-run homer that would have tied the game in the top of the seventh inning, hit the top of the yellow guard on the chain-link fence in left field. It bounced straight up and came back down into the field of play for an RBI double.
Domby and her teammate on third base remained stranded as the Lady Hilltoppers got the final two outs and earned a very tough 4-2 win Thursday at Metro-Kiwanis Park.
It was an important Big Seven Conference win for Science Hill, which stayed in a tie with Daniel Boone for first place with a league mark of 7-1. The Lady Hilltoppers are 25-6 overall.
Dobyns-Bennett (18-13) slipped to 4-6 in the conference.
After engaging in a scoreless duel with D-B’s Morgan Riffle for 5 1/2 innings, Science Hill pitcher Sejal Neas gave her team a big boost with a three-run homer well over the center field fence in the bottom of the sixth inning.
“It was a good momentum changer,” said Neas. “I was struggling early in the season with pitches high in the strike zone, but I think I’ve made an adjustment to come on through.”
Prior to Neas’ homer, the Lady Hilltoppers got a baserunner, and eventually a run, when a call was changed from an out to a hit batter after the umpires conferred. A throwing error later allowed the first run of the game to score.
The 4-0 lead seemed like plenty in a pitchers’ duel, but Neas hit D-B’s leadoff hitter in the seventh inning.
“After I hit the leadoff batter, I kind of got shaken up,” said Neas.
Lady Hilltoppers’ head coach Jerry Higgins said he was concerned after the hit batter.
“When we hit the leadoff batter, so many times the next girl gets a hit,” Higgins said. “It has happened over and over. We’ve got to get better with that. I thought the game was well under control.”
Riffle hit a single, and Makaila Collier followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1. Kassidy Miller added a single to set the stage for Domby. She gave Neas something to worry about with a towering fly ball that appeared to have over-the-fence legs.
“Oh, I almost started crying,” said Neas. “I was like, ‘Praise Jesus.’ I got locked back in after that, so it was good.”
D-B head coach Andy Hubbard said, “That was our luck today, but you’ve got to make your own luck.”
Hubbard said his team needed get more done before it got backed into a corner.
“We came back and battled at the end,” said Hubbard. “We have to battle the whole game instead of waiting until we get mad.”
After the double, Science Hill intentionally walked a batter to load the bases, and Neas got a popup and a fly out to end the game.
Neas allowed just five hits with eight strikeouts and one walk.
Striking out the first five batters she faced, Riffle stayed hot until the sixth inning.
“She gets fired up to play against us,” said Higgins. “She gave up 10 to Daniel Boone (Monday), and then comes out here and throws like Nolan Ryan. I don’t know why, but give her credit. She does a great job against us.”
Riffle allowed three hits and four runs, three earned, with 10 strikeouts and only one walk.
Science Hill’s Abigail Taylor was the only player in the game with two hits.