The moistened brick dust might have been a factor in the misplays, but Boone coach Rob Hoover made no excuses.“Give credit to them. They put a lot of pressure on you. They found a way to win,” said Hoover. “I just hate to see us go out with a chance to win in the seventh. It’s tough to swallow.”Cox gave up six walks — including an intentional to Craig in the fifth — but that didn’t keep him from isolating three Hilltoppers in scoring position over five shutout innings.
He gave up his first run on Hayes’ RBI fielder’s choice in the fifth. He evaded greater damage, leaving three Science Hill runners stranded. Pardue was hitless, but hardly witless. The pitch the cunning Johnson City left fielder got hit by in the seventh was the second plunk he’d absorbed off of Cox.“What’s funny, a previous at-bat I thought one hit his jersey and I told him to sell it better so I could at least go out there and talk. Then he tried to sell one that didn’t hit him,” said Science Hill coach Ryan Edwards, laughing.
“But he got that (last) one and he hustled down there. So I was proud of him.”
Hayes got the start for Science Hill, pitching four shutout innings. Craig (6-2) took over in the fifth.
Despite giving up the shot to Davis in the sixth inning, Craig did more than enough to earn his win. In prelude to scoring the winning run, he retired the ’Blazers in order, striking out two, in the top of the seventh. Craig started the game at third base, from where he executed his most memorable play of the game. His diving catch over the fence in foul territory for the first out elicited a gasp from the crowd.
“I was afraid he’d come down on his neck or something. That was an unbelievable catch,” Edwards said.
Science Hill (28-8) will face Dobyns-Bennett at Volunteer today at 5 p.m. A win by the Hilltoppers would force a second game for the championship.