Kolton Keller had an 11-pitch final at-bat as the Hilltoppers were eliminated with a 4-2 defeat to Siegel on the Stars’ home field. For Science Hill coach Ryan Edwards, he expected no less of an effort from what he called a truly special team.
“This was a team that fought its way all the way to getting here, and they fought all the way down,” Edwards said. “Both of our (state tournament) games were tough losses, but we fought to the end.
“The teams down here are good, but we were good, too. We just came up short. It wasn’t because of a lack of effort. We gave it everything we had.”
For a second straight day, the story was timely hitting as the Hilltoppers left nine runners stranded. They had one more hit than Siegel, but the Hilltoppers couldn’t string them together.
Garrett Stiltner had a RBI single in the sixth inning to score Keller, and David Bryant had a solo home run in the seventh for the Hilltoppers’ two runs. Bryant had the Hilltoppers’ only run the night before against Collierville with another solo home run.
“I was just trying to get good swings on the ball and help the team out,” Bryant said. “It just so happened that it helped the team out.”
The Stars improved to 31-9, while Science Hill finished their season at 35-9.
John Langworthy gave up five hits and one run over 5 2/3 innings to get the win. Science Hill’s Josh Francisco suffered the loss, although he gave up just four hits and two walks and struck out seven batters over 4 1/3 innings. Jack Emling gave up just one hit over the final 2 2/3 innings.
Matthew Levi was 2-for-3 and Keller was 2-for-4 to lead Science Hill at the plate. But it wasn’t enough to overcome the 4-0 lead that Siegel built in the fourth and fifth innings. Still, Science Hill had reason to celebrate after a season in which they swept Big Seven Conference, District 1-AAA and Region 1-AAA championships and made its first state tournament appearance in eight years.
“I’ve had a lot of special groups of players, and I’ve been blessed with some great teams,” Edwards said. “When it comes to tight-knit groups, these guys learned from previous teams and they just keep carrying on the tradition. This group of seniors taught the underclassmen what it means to be a family, and that’s why we were such a good team.”
Bryant added, “It has been an amazing season. I’ve loved playing with these guys and hate seeing it come to an end. But I know there will be more great things after this year.”