By Trey Williams
The Pittsburgh Pirates adopted “We Are Family” as a theme song en route to a 1979 championship.
Science Hill could’ve done the same while winning the state championship last year and conference, district and regional titles this year.
A trio of cousins, Cole Torbett, Jack Torbett and Caleb McBride, were key cogs for Ryan Edwards’ Hilltoppers.
Cole, the 2021 Mr. Baseball and a Middle Tennessee signee, was the ace on the mound, a gazelle in center field and batted leadoff. Jack had soft hands at shortstop, quick hands at the plate and speed on the basepaths.
And McBride was a hard-throwing reliever.
“They all three had lots of big moments, you know,” Edwards said. “They all came through in so many different ways.”
McBride, who will play at Carson-Newman, closed three games in the state tournament last year, including the championship game.
“It’s kind of a blur until the dogpile,” McBride said. “That dogpile was just, like, different. I was at the very bottom and I just remember my face was just getting completely pushed into the ground. Like, there’s definitely still a mark from my face in that field.”
Cole pitched a no-hitter against a good-hitting Tennessee High team this year and struck out 16 in a win against rival Dobyns-Bennett. One umpire said he wouldn’t have been surprised if he was throwing higher than 88 miles per hour in that one.
“Everybody in the dugout was like, ‘Cole, you’re throwing 90 right now,’” Cole said.
Cole’s favorite outing was an 11-strikeout shutout against Siegel in the state tournament last year.
“The fact I could do that at state with like the pressure on,” Cole said, “It was an elimination game – I just felt relieved after that game.”
Jack said Cole’s determination on the mound has always impressed.
“Ever since we were probably nine we’ve called Cole the Bulldog on the mound because that’s what he does,” Jack said. “He gets that look in his eyes and he’s not the same person at all – in a good way.”
Jack got a similar look in his eyes after sustaining a serious knee injury in football last fall.
“Yeah, I mean, honestly, I didn’t like the idea of missing my senior season of baseball,” Jack said. “So that was a lot of motivation. And then I just had a lot of the baseball boys just like kind of talking me through it motivated me and stuff saying they wanted me back.”
Cole was a record-setting receiver for the Hilltoppers and part of the same corps as Jack.
“When that happened I was honestly heartbroken,” Cole said. “And whenever he got surgery, I was over at his house every day, helping him out with whatever. … And the fact that he got to play was just a blessing.”
McBride recalls Jack’s red-hot, in-season return this year.
“I mean as soon as he got back on the field … he went like 3-for-3 with two doubles or something,” McBride said. “It was super-cool to see. He told me like, good or bad, when he went out on the field that he just felt so happy and thankful to be out there.”
Jack returned about as quickly as possible from the ligament tear and was nearly as good as new from the get-go.
“Maybe his foot speed wasn’t quite as good as it was last year,” Edwards said, “but his power at the plate and his defense, I thought, were just right where he needed to be for us down the stretch those last two or three weeks.”
Cole was hurt, if not injured, on the football field during his junior season by David Crockett’s Prince Kollie, who’s now at Notre Dame.
“I went across the middle,” Cole said. “He knocked me senseless. I fell on the ground. And I was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’
“But he’s a really nice guy. He helped me up like, ‘Sorry about that.’ I was like, ‘No, you’re good.’”
Cole has the highest profile in terms of college, and that’s understandable. Edwards anticipates great things to come from all three at the next level. Jack will begin at Walters State.
“Jack has got a lot of surprise power,” Edwards said. “He’s fast. He’s a really good defender at short. I think he’s going to flourish with Walters State and I think he’s going to end up being at a high Division I when it’s all said and done.
“I think Caleb’s gonna throw it really hard when it’s all said and done. I mean, he was already starting to get some upper 80s, some consistent upper-80s outings. … For sure, we were lucky to have those three.”