GRAY — David Crockett isn’t through with Science Hill just yet.
The Pioneers got back in the District 1-AAA baseball tournament spotlight Tuesday night with a 5-2 victory over Tennessee High to reach the championship game and qualify for a Region 1 playoff berth.
Chris Marti (7-1) bested the Vikings’ Chase Cunningham (7-3) in a classic pitching duel. Both went the distance and had their fastballs clocked consistently between 84 and 88 mph.
Crockett (22-12) and Science Hill (26-12) will play at 7 tonight. If the Hilltoppers win, it will be over. Should Crockett prevail, a second game would be necessary on Thursday to determine the champion.
The booming bat of catcher Drue Deloach provided four of Crockett’s five runs. He homered and delivered a pair of sacrifice flies.
“I got the homer on a changeup,’’ Deloach said. “I saw one in my first time at bat. The next time I just sat back and drove it. The sacrifices were just as big.
“It was good to get as many runs as we could. Joe Ganger drove in an insurance run in the seventh that really helped out.’’
Marti went after Tennessee High’s batters aggressively.
“The last time I pitched against (the Vikings), I had a shoulder problem,’’ he said. “My arm wasn’t feeling very good then but it was tonight.’’
Crockett coach Scott Hagy was optimistic when he penciled in Marti as his starter.
“Chris wanted the ball and was ready to go,’’ Hagy said. ‘’When we got those two runs in the top of the seventh, it gave him a cushion. At the same time it had to be demoralizing for Tennessee High.’’
Crockett took a 2-0 lead in the third inning on Deloach’s homer after Chris Freeman beat out an infield hit.
The Vikings immediately tied the score. Cody Snyder singled, Stephen Mullins doubled and Cunningham stroked a single.
Crockett forged ahead 3-2 in the fifth. Jacob Berry singled and continued on to third when Sam Tarlton’s single was juggled in right field.
The Pioneers finished the job with two runs in the seventh. Tarlton singled, Freeman doubled off the left field fence, Deloach lofted a sacrifice fly and Ganger singled sharply.
“Drue has been on fire the last two or three weeks,’’ Hagy said. “His defense has been as stellar as his hitting. He’s made two super plays in this tournament.’’
Gill Payne, whose Tennessee High team was picked fifth but tied for first place in the Big 8 Conference race, saw his team finish 29-7. The Vikings have won 68 games since he took over.
“We surprised a lot of people, including ourselves, by winning 29 games in a rebuilding process. I’m pleasantly surprised where we are after only three years,’’ Payne said. “Tonight, we’re going to talk to the players about all the positives of this season.
“Crockett is just a better ballclub than we are this year.’’
Hagy plans to open with Ty Shipley on the mound against the Hilltoppers. He’ll have Freeman, the team’s ace, primed for relief.
“Clint will have three full days of rest. The equivalent of a bullpen would be about the extent he’d go,’’ Hagy said. “We’re in the region playoffs and this has been our goal. Now we can change that focus and try to steal two from the Hilltoppers. If not, we’ll still be playing on Monday.’’
Science Hill ace Daniel Norris tossed an 18-strikeout no-hitter against Crockett on Monday. He threw 146 pitches and one of them was clocked at 94 mph. He won’t be pitching again until next week.
Jefferson County and Sevier County will be the District 2 representatives in the region playoffs.
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