By Gene Renfro
JOHNSON CITY — Elizabethton could not overcome two big innings by Science Hill Wednesday in the regular season finale as the Hilltoppers emerged with the 13-3 outcome.
“You want to go out on a positive note, but there were some positives,” Elizabethton head coach Joe Nix said. “I thought we hit the ball pretty well tonight especially when they were mixing it up. We saw some good arms. We squared up some balls, but unfortunately found leather.”
The Cyclones will go into the District 1AA Tournament with a 22-8 mark before playing a semifinal contest Saturday at Milligan College. Elizabethton, the Three Rivers Conference regular season champion, will face off against the winner between Johnson County and Sullivan North.
Those aforementioned two innings occurred in the fourth when Science Hill sent 10 batters to the plate and seven runs scored. In the sixth, and what turned out to be the final frame, the home squad posted five more runs.
Despite being down 8-0 the Cyclones posted all three runs in the top of the fifth. Austin Smith drew a lead-off walk before stealing second. Jordan Hinshaw then singled on a bunt to put the duo on the corners. Chad Pritchard then doubled to left as Smith scored easily. Thomas Miller then capped his 3-for-3 night with a two-run single up the middle.
Miller had three of Elizabethton’s eight hits as Anthony Ward was 2-for-3.
Jesse Clark was tagged for the loss. He threw the first 3 1/3 innings for the orange and black. Clark scattered six hits that led to five runs.
He also walked a pair of Hilltoppers.
Science Hill’s Matt Pope came in throwing hard and fast. In his two innings of relief Pope struck out three of the seven batters he faced.
Elizabethton did produce two hits off him on pitches touching 92 and 93 miles per hour.
The Hilltoppers, co-Big 8 regular season champions with a 25-8 record, saw Will Craig use a 4-for-5 game to hit for the cycle. He started with a triple in the opening inning as the high fly ball was lost in the twilight sky and landed on the warning track.
After a fly out in the third he hit a two-run home run in the fourth. In the sixth he completed the cycle with a lead-off double before a RBI single to right made the score 13-3.
Reed Hayes, the starting pitcher, was 2-for-4 and scored twice. Bennett Blanton was 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored.