JOHNSON CITY - The long-anticipated showdown between state high school baseball powers put Dobyns-Bennett on top in the Big 9 Conference standings Tuesday night and may have served as a preview of the postseason.
D-B (14-2, 8-0) knocked Science Hill (14-1, 7-1) from the unbeaten ranks with an 8-2 victory at Cardinal Park.
The Indians unleashed a 10-hit attack and played errorlessly on defense.
Neither starting pitcher was around for the finish. D-B shelled Paul Hoilman for nine hits and five runs. Science Hill chased Bo Burton in the fifth inning.
Jordan Adams, Derek Trent, Easton Ring and Wesley Jones combined for nine D-B hits. This foursome either scored or drove in a total of eight runs.
Adams is batting .404, Trent .489, Ring .480 and Jones .340.
The two teams have been scoring at will and it was only fitting that they engage in an offensive battle. D-B has scored 170 runs and Science Hill has plated 111 this season.
Science Hill reliever Chas Byrne, a grandson of retired New York Yankees pitcher Tommy Byrne, slowed D-B's bats but not until after the Indians had built a 5-1 lead.
D-B right-hander Tyler Joyce, who struck out 18 batters in a seven-inning performance against Tennessee High, came out of the bullpen to no-hit the Hilltoppers over the last 2 2-3 innings.
"We planned all along to throw both Bo and Tyler against Science Hill,'' D-B coach Mike Ritz said. "We wanted five good innings from Bo and he gave us four.
"We had to have this win to put us a leg up in the Big 9 race. We still have some tough conference games remaining.''
Science Hill coach Bill McKinney said a hit or two in the right places might have made it a different outcome.
"We couldn't get a key hit,'' McKinney said. "We needed one or two in the clutch. We had a couple of one-out situations - with runners on second and third and with the bases loaded - when we didn't connect.''
D-B got to Hoilman, a power pitcher, in the second inning. Ring's deep infield hit, Burton's sacrifice and a single by Jones gave the Tribe a 1-0 lead.
The Indians broke open the game with four runs in the third. Derek Trent doubled, Adams belted a 420-foot triple, Aaron Marsh lofted a sacrifice fly, Darin Trent singled, Ring doubled and Jones singled.
Science Hill broke ice in the third. John Barcel was struck by a pitch and advanced on a hit by Byrne and Preston Byrd's sacrifice. Barcel scored when Matt Rice delivered a sacrifice fly.
The only other Hilltopper run came in the fifth. Barcel bunted his way on base, moved up on a hit by Byrne and scored on Rice's single.
Joyce bailed Burton out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth.
"Bo got a little tired,'' D-B pitching coach Josh Warner said. "The first four innings he gave us were effective. Tyler took over and did well. I was pleased with both pitchers.''
Burton said the pitching practically went according to script. "I wanted to go as far as I could. Science Hill's batters were jumping on first-pitch fastballs for hits. I knew Tyler would come in and do a good job for us.''
Joyce, keeping his pitches low, did just that. He retired eight of the nine batters he faced.
"I love to pitch in pressure situations,'' Joyce said. "It helps me to stay focused and makes the game a lot more fun.
"We've been scoring a lot of runs. It helps you to relax on the mound when you know you've got a good offense.''
D-B scored three times in the seventh. Three errors, a sacrifice by Marsh and Adams' third hit of the game opened the gates.
"We swung the ball well and ran the bases aggressively,'' Ritz said. "Everybody in the lineup contributed in some way. Our outfielders played in the spots they were supposed to. It showed that their minds were in the game.''
Four East Tennessee State signees - Burton, Trent, Hoilman and Byrne - saw action.
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