KINGSPORT — In the most pressure-packed situation he’s faced all season, Science Hill pitcher Brandon Feathers didn’t flinch.
Instead, he stuck to the game plan and delivered the Hilltoppers a 1-0 win over Dobyns-Bennett at J. Fred Johnson Stadium on Monday.
Holding a one-run lead in the seventh inning with the potential game-tying and winning runs on second and third base, Feathers stayed collected and threw strikes. It led to a game-ending, 4-3 groundout that gave Feathers the win in a pitchers’ duel with the Indians’ Brogan Beckner and Tanner Doran.
“Brandon held his composure the whole game,” Science Hill coach Ryan Edwards said. “He mixed it up really well and was able to throw all his pitches. But he was the aggressor all night and I was proud of the way he pitched.”
Feathers threw a complete game with eight strikeouts, while giving up just five hits and one walk. He knew if he panicked at the end, all his work on the mound would have been undone in the Big 7 Conference clash.
“We just have to stay calm and execute the pitches,” Feathers said. “Coach Edwards was calling the pitches and we booted a ball at the end, but I know that’s not going to happen much. I trust everyone out in the field to make the next play, and they did.”
THE LONE RUNMAN
The game’s only run came in the second inning on a bases-loaded walk by Kolten Keller to score Matthew Levi. Four walks that inning led to an earned run for Beckner, who had eight walks overall.
It was the only stain on Beckner’s performance. He struck out nine and gave up just one hit, a single to Zach Copenhaver, over five innings. David Bryant had the other hit for Science Hill (17-3, 7-0), a bunt single against Doran in the seventh inning that appeared to have scored Keller before being called out on the tag at home by D-B catcher Will Gladson.
Beckner went 2-for-3 to lead the Tribe (12-7, 5-2) offensively. Cannon Ferrell pounded a double in the fourth, although he was caught for the out while trying to stretch it to a triple. Jackson McDavid and Cade Maupin singled in the seventh.
A timely defensive play by Science Hill first baseman Keller on Maupin’s single saved the day for the Hilltoppers. The hard-hit ball took a nasty bounce and gave Keller little chance to come up with it for an out. However, Keller quickly recovered, fielded the ball and fired a long throw to third to nix a potential game-tying run.
The Indians advanced Maupin to third when Aiden Scanlen’s hard hit ball led to a Science Hill error. Scanlen went to second on a stolen base before Feathers and the ’Toppers recorded the final out.
“There were a couple of instances where we got thrown out and I would take those back,” D-B coach Ryan Wagner said. “We were just trying to be aggressive. When you have zero runs, the hits are hard to come by. But I’m proud of our kids. Our pitchers were awesome and we competed. There were too many free passes, but you can’t say enough about our pitching and defense.”
The teams will meet again in Johnson City on Tuesday at 6 p.m., and Wagner’s Indians need to put Monday’s result behind them.
“This is a tough loss, but the way it’s set up this year you have to get over it quick,” Wagner said. “I don’t think any baseball team is going to win every game in a series against a really good team unless everything just goes right for you.”