MARYVILLE — Matt Buckner might’ve seen his Farragut High School baseball team notch a key District 4-AAA road victory Monday night.
The Admirals knocked off Maryville 12-4 to maintain sole possession of first place but a tough fifth inning left the veteran coach concerned.
“That was just a horrible inning and I don’t know any other way to say it,” Buckner said after his squad surrendered four runs to the host Red Rebels in the bottom of the fifth at Maryville’s new ballpark at Coulter Grove Elementary School. “We just had an inning where we scored five runs to go up 6-0. Then, we turn around and walk four and hit two.
“They get four runs and get back into the game in an inning where they get one hit. You get beat when you do things and have innings like that.”
The Red Rebels’ big inning came after the Admirals (23-4 overall, 9-1 in the district) scored six runs in the top of the frame thanks to a two-run single by senior Duncan Pence and an RBI single by Cole Morgan. Farragut also got a scoring single by Parker Noland and scored another run when junior Justen Freeman rapped into a double play.
The Red Rebels (10-16, 4-6) answered in the bottom of the fifth with four runs. Maryville took advantage of four walks and two hit batters in the inning. The Red Rebels also scored three runs on a bases-loaded double by third baseman Mason Fry.
“Maryville has always been a scrappy team. That’s their trademark,” said Pence, who gave the Admirals a 1-0 lead with a solo home run off Maryville starter Evan Porter two lead off the fourth inning.
The homer was a culmination of some extra work for Pence, who also tripled and singled on a night when he went 3-for-5 in the contest. “I’ve been struggling over the past three or four games.
“Coach Buck and I have been working on keeping my shoulder in and not pulling my shoulder out too soon. Evan gave me a curve ball and I saw it early. I saw it really well.”
Senior Dylan Pacifico went 4 2/3 innings and gave up just three hits. He struck out five and walked two and hit two Maryville batters and was charged with all four runs.
Pacifico gave way to Jack DeVault, who walked both hitters he faced before John Painter recorded the final out of the inning and slammed the door on the Red Rebels.
Maryville first-year head coach Adam Sullivan applauded his team’s perseverance.
“We took advantage of some things that they gave us,” Sullivan said. “I’m proud of my kids for the way they battled and I thought we had some good at-bats in that inning.
“We battled but we came up short. Hopefully, we’ll get hot in the [district] tournament.”
FHS extended its advantage to 8-4 with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth. Chandler Chambers walked to lead off the inning. He stole second and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Zach Yunger.
Chambers scored when Morgan doubled. Morgan also came home on the play with the aid of a two-base error by Maryville.
The Admirals added four more runs in the seventh. Freeman started things with a leadoff triple and scored when Noland grounded out to first. Chambers added an RBI double and Farragut also got scoring singles by Cade Burkey and Painter.
Freeman was pleased to win but like Buckner, he was distressed by Maryville’s big inning.
“Maryville is scrappy and you just can’t have those kinds of innings against Evan because he’s such a great pitcher,” Freeman said. “You just can’t do that.
“But we were able to get the win.”