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Science Hill, East, South advance

BILL LANE • May 7, 2007 at 1:15 AM

KINGSPORT - Pitching tends to overtake strong hitting at tournament time.

That certainly was the case Sunday in the District 1-AAA baseball tournament at Sullivan South.

Science Hill (28-5), Sullivan East (19-7) and South (19-14) advanced to the semifinals with impressive pitching performances. Double elimination is now in effect.

Paul Hoilman fired a two-hitter as Science Hill beat Tennessee High 10-1.

Matt Shepherd also tossed a two-hitter in East's 10-4 victory over David Crockett.

Not to be outdone, South's Josh Bedingfield and Tristan Archer combined to throw a one-hitter in a 7-1 decision over Daniel Boone.

It ended the season for all three losing teams.

In today's semifinals, second-seeded Science Hill plays No. 3 seed Sullivan East at 5 p.m. and No. 1 seed Dobyns-Bennett makes its first appearance in a 7:30 game against South.

Bedingfield, a submarining right-hander, continued his mastery over Boone. His only two wins of the season have been against the Trailblazers.

Moving the ball around with his South Pole deliveries, the lanky Bedingfield held Boone hitless until losing pitcher Nick Caldwell beat out an infield single with one down in the sixth inning. Bedingfield walked the next two batters and Archer came in to pitch the last five outs.

"I realized around the fourth inning that I had a no-hitter going,'' Bedingfield said. "Our defense was magical. It was one of our best defensive outings this year.''

Bedingfield, who will graduate with a 4.0 grade point average, got high marks for this game.

"When you bat off Bedingfield, you better focus on hitting the ball back through the box,'' South coach Anthony Richardson said. "He wants you to pull away from it. His arm angle is totally different from that of other pitchers. Tonight, he was effectively wild.''

South snapped off a pair of double plays, the last one an unassisted beauty by third baseman Ben Begley in the third inning when Boone was battling back. He snared a line shot and stepped on the bag for the third out.

"That was a big play by Begley,'' Richardson said. "It took the wind out of Boone's sails. He's been playing well in recent games.''

Boone coach Rob Hoover, whose team finished 20-11, said committing three errors and getting just one hit didn't quite cut it.

"I don't care who you're playing or what your seeding is, you'll not win like that,'' he said.

The last time Boone won 20 games was in 1998 and that was while the team was a member of the Class AA Watauga Conference.

"As far as I'm concerned, the Big 9 Conference is the best league in the state,'' Hoover said. "When you tie for third place in it, that's quite an achievement. I don't want one night to take away from what this team accomplished.''

Hoover indicated the 'Blazers had much difficulty drawing a bead on Bedingfield's pitches. "We scored just three runs off him in two games,'' he said. "We struggled. He kept us off balance.''

For all intents and purposes, South had the win in a bag after two innings with a 4-0 lead. The Rebels struck for three more runs in the sixth, chasing the fireballing Caldwell.

Ben Daniels (2-for-3), Begley (2-for-3) and Jordan Kitzmiller (2-for-4) led South's 10-hit attack.

Hoilman, erratic in the second inning against Tennessee High, found a groove and retired 10 batters in a row.

"I knew I was rushing things a bit and thought I'd better make good pitches,'' he said.

Zach Howell, Nathaniel Patterson and Trey Worley each got two hits for the Hilltoppers.

"We hit the ball pretty well,'' Science Hill coach Bill McKinney said. "We hadn't seen any live pitching since last Monday.''

Tennessee High coach David Halstead felt just one key hit in the second inning might have influenced the outcome in his team's favor.

"That would have made it a different game,'' Halstead said. "We had the bases loaded and were in it. Then, we reverted to some of the things we did early in the season to keep us from being a good ballclub.''

The Vikings committed five errors.

Shepherd was in command throughout for East . He struck out 11 Crockett batters. At one stretch, eight Pioneers went down in order.

"I had both my fastball and curve working,'' Shepherd said. "The curve was breaking well.

"Our defense played well. When you've got support runs, it's easier to pitch.''

Logan Bowers, Myles Key, Tyler Gaby and Aaron Martin each got two hits for the Patriots. Gaby hit a 360-foot homer in the third. Gaby, Christian Taylor and Brooks Graham drove in two runs apiece.

"Shepherd has done the job all year,'' East coach Mike Breuninger said. "Essentially, Crockett gave us our first four runs. We didn't take very good swings early on.

"We've got to step it up a notch against Science Hill.''

Crockett coach Scott Hagy said: "I liked our fight after the first inning. As a group, I'm very proud of these players.''

Crockett finished 7-23, Tennessee High 9-23.

All three games had been postponed Saturday because of wet grounds.

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