Farragut High School shortstop Duncan Pence got some recent advice from Admirals baseball coach Matt Buckner. Pence listened and it paid some dividends.
“After the Hardin Valley game [on Monday, March 28], I talked to coach Buck and we talked about waiting for my pitch,” Pence said after he started Farragut’s scoring parade with a two-run homer in a 10-0 District 4-AAA victory over Lenoir City on Wednesday, March 30, at John Heatherly Field at The Ballpark in Farragut. “I got my pitch and I squared it up and hit it out of the park.”
Pence’s home run set the early tone in the win over the Panthers (0-11 overall, 0-6 in District 4-AAA).
Carmelo Venero doubled off Lenoir City starting pitcher Austin Jones to lead off the game for Farragut (9-2, 4-1) and came home on Pence’s round tripper. The Admirals would go on to plate four more runs in the frame and put this one away early, Justen Freeman’s RBI single made the score 3-0. FHS added another run on a sacrifice fly by John Painter.
Farragut then picked up two more runs when designated hitter Zach Yunger reached on a two-base error.
“We did what we had to do,” said Pence, who went 1-for-2 with two runs, a homer, a walk, a stolen base and two runs batted in. “We had to come in today and stay focused and we had to use our ability and we did that.”
The Admirals added a run in the second frame when Cole Morgan doubled home Pence, who walked to lead off the inning.
In the third inning, the Admirals started fast. Painter doubled and Cade Burkey walked to chase Jones from the game. Both Painter and Burkey were lifted for pinch runners. Lenoir City reliever Dalton Smith averted any damage when Tyler Pegg and Kevin McCarthy were caught in rundowns after Venero singled.
Panthers coach Richie Wilhite commended Smith for escaping the third and retiring the Admirals in order in the fourth.
“Dalton really came in and did a good job shutting down a very good offensive team,” Wilhite said. “That was a really good performance against a very good team.
“He really closed out a good hitting team. We’re very young. We start three or four freshmen in every game. But our kids are working hard and competing. I’m really proud of them for the way they work and the way they take coaching.”
Smith might’ve kept the Admirals at bay throughout his first two innings of work but Farragut finally got to him for three runs in the bottom of the fifth. The game’s final rally started out with one out when Freeman reached on an error. Jake Hagenow then drew a base on balls before Burkey singled to load the bases. Freeman scored when Yunger walked with the bases loaded to make the score 8-0. Venero and Alec Rheinhart then had back-to-back RBI singles to end the game via the 10-run mercy rule.
Freeman said that the Admirals played well against the Panthers.
“We played good defense and we hit the ball well,” said Freeman, who finished 1-for-3 and scored two runs, swiped a base and knocked in a run. “We had some good pitching.”
Farragut used four pitchers against the Panthers.
Jake Grooms started and went two innings. He walked one and struck out two. Danny Abel pitched the third and had two strikeouts. Burkey worked the fourth. He gave up a hit and fanned a pair of Panthers. Jack DeVault threw a scoreless fifth. He walked one and struck out two.
Buckner was happy to see his squad take care of business on this night.
“We did what we had to do,” he said. “We didn’t do anything spectacular but we were able to get some guys some work and that’s always good.
“We got some guys some work on the mound and it was just one of those games where we did what we needed to do.”