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Hilltoppers, Pioneers set for collision in District 1-AAA baseball tournament

Bill Lane • May 9, 2010 at 10:46 AM

GRAY — Science Hill defeated Dobyns-Bennett 13-3 in five innings and David Crockett surprised Tennessee High 4-3 in Sunday’s District 1-AAA baseball matinee double feature.

The results set up Science Hill (25-12) and David Crockett (21-11) for the “Battle of Washington County” at 7:30 tonight, with fireballers Daniel Norris and Chris Marti scheduled to pitch.

“I’m ready for it,’’ said Marti, who appeared for one inning in relief of starter Joe Ganger to earn a save against Tennessee High on the second day of the tourney. “I pitched against Science Hill early the season and had the game won but something happened.’’

Science Hill coach Ryan Edwards said the time is right for Norris, one of the nation’s top prospects, to make another appearance in the event. Norris pitched only two innings in a 16-0 rout of Volunteer on Saturday.

“We have Daniel ready,’’ Edwards said, “and you put your best out there when he’s ready.’’

The Science Hill/Crockett winner will nail down a Region 1 playoff berth while the other will fall into the loser’s bracket.

“We came into this season to win the district championship,’’ Crockett coach Scott Hagy said, “and that’s what we’re doing,’’

Hagy pulled a trump card from his sleeve to catch Tennessee High off guard. The Vikings perhaps were expecting to face Marti but didn’t see him until the final inning.

“I had a good instinct with our sophomore (Ganger),’’ Hagy said. “I didn’t make that call until 30 minutes before the game.

“Joe competes. He gets after it on the mound. He was around the plate with the ball and made Tennessee High put the ball in play.’’

Ganger, who did not walk a batter in the six innings he worked, figured Jacob Berry would be the starter.

“I was happy to get the start,’’ Ganger said. “I wanted to be on the mound.’’

He served up a couple of home run balls to losing pitcher Stephen Mullins and Cody Snyder but otherwise was pretty much in control.

“I tried to keep the ball low to offset them a little,’’ Ganger said. “My job was to throw strikes and allow the defense to play behind me.’’

Ganger (4-3) stretched an elbow ligament during a preseason scrimmage and didn’t get to pitch for two weeks.

Crockett plated three runs in the second inning on singles by Ganger, Aaron Blevins and Ty Shipley, followed by Sam Tarlton’s double. The winning run came in the fourth when Berry doubled home Shipley, who had singled and advanced on a sacrifice.

Mullins, who entered with a 1.86 earned run average, suffered his first loss in seven decisions.

D-B (21-13) got an early homer from Elijah Sutherland but didn’t have the firepower to stay with Science Hill. The Hilltoppers unloaded a 10-hit attack and finally ended the game on an outfield error.

“We just try to stay on top of the ball and hit line drives,’’ Edwards said of the Hilltoppers’ offensive approach. “We like to square up and put the hits together.’’

Despite the loss, retiring D-B coach Mike Ritz is optimistic his team can still earn passage to the regional.

“We need two more wins,’’ he said. “We’re still in good shape.

“There were a lot of calls behind the plate today that went the other way. We hit shots and Science Hill hit bloops. The bloops fell in.’’

The Indians (21-13) will take on Tennessee High (28-6) today at 5 p.m. in the loser’s bracket.

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