Pacifico, Painter lift Admirals past rival Bulldogs
Farragut High School senior baseball player John Painter experienced a wide range of emotions Tuesday night.
He clubbed a first-inning home run and made an error but he bounced back and pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to help the Admirals claim a 4-1 victory over rival Bearden in a District 4-AAA game before a big crowd at John Heatherly Field at the Ballpark in Farragut.
Painter, a pitcher and infielder, delivered just what FHS coach Matt Buckner expected him to.
“John Painter is a tough kid,” Buckner said. “I would take one of him on every team that I’ve ever had.”
Painter gave the Admirals a 1-0 lead with one out in the first inning when he took a fat changeup from Bearden junior ace David Beam and parked it over the left-field fence.
“It was a 1-1 pitch and he hung a changeup,” Painter said. “I swung and it went over the fence.
“I didn’t think it was going over and then I almost tripped over first base when [first base] coach Garrett Copeland was giving me a high five. This was a big win for us because it was for first place.”
The Admirals (19-4 overall, 7-1 in the district) not only claimed sole possession of the top spot in the league but they also avenged an earlier loss to the Bulldogs (16-6, 6-2) earlier this month in the district opener for both schools.
Buckner said that the key
was some clutch offense with two outs.
“We got some hits with two outs tonight,” he said. “We didn’t get those hits the first time that we played them.
Farragut also picked up a stellar pitching performance from senior starter Dylan Pacifico. He surrendered one run, three hits and three walks. He hit a batter and struck out nine before giving way to Painter with one out in the top of the sixth.
“Dylan’s a senior. He’s our guy,” Buckner said. “He did what we needed him to do,” Buckner said. “Once we get him through the first few innings, he usually does pretty well. That first inning is usually an Achilles’ heel, but we got a good one from him tonight. He got out of a couple of jams tonight.”
After Painter entered with one out and two on in the sixth, Bearden designated hitter Tyson Beach reached on a fielder’s choice. No out was recorded and that loaded the bases before Painter fanned Thomas Wilson swinging and caught Prater Knight looking.
Pacifico said he was pleased with his outing.
“I love pitching in front of big crowds,” said Pacifico, who pitched his way out of trouble in the top of the fourth inning. “I thrive on the energy that the crowd gives me.
Pacifico made some big pitches in the top of the fourth after the Bulldogs’ Brandon Trammell walked and advanced to third on a single by Clark Poynter. Poynter later stole second before Pacifico struck out the side and stranded both runners in scoring position to end the frame.
The Admirals took a 2-0 in the second as Cade Burkey’s RBI single plated Chandler Chambers.
Farragut extended its lead to 3-0 in the fourth when first baseman Parker Noland singled home Carmelo Venero, who doubled with one out to begin the rally.
Bearden pulled to within 3-1 in the fifth when Beam’s two-out single drove in Knight, who drew a one-out walk and took second on a wild pitch.
Beam accounted for Bearden’s lone run but labored on the mound.
“I thought I made good pitches. I was hitting my spots but they just got some good hits off of me,” Beam said. “Dylan is such a good pitcher and he made some big pitches tonight.”
Bulldogs coach John Rice tipped his hat to the Admirals but noted that he wasn’t happy.
“I thought both of their pitchers, Pacifico and Painter did a good job,” Rice said. “Farragut had a great effort tonight.
“We’re obviously not happy with our effort but it’s just one night.”
The Admirals added a fourth run in the sixth when Cole Morgan drew a walk with the bases loaded.