Noland delivers in comeback win

Parker Noland may only be a freshman but his RBI single lifted the Farragut High School baseball team to a 2-1 comeback victory over Knoxville Catholic Saturday afternoon at John Heatherly Field at the Ballpark at Farragut.

Noland’s single plated Carmelo Venero with the winning run with one out in the bottom of the seventh innings. The hit also gave the Admirals its first lead of the contest and culminated a two-run frame.

“Parker Noland is going to be a special player,” FHS coach Matt Buckner said. “He got a big hit for us.

“That was a big hit and this was a big win because we’re in the midst of seven games in eight days and honestly, I think we’re running on fumes.”

Noland, a catcher, was pleased to pick up his big hit against Irish reliever Hunter Judd.

“It feels great to come up and get a hit two win the game,” Noland said. “We’re pretty tired today.”

The Admirals (29-4) had plenty of reasons for being fatigued. Farragut won a night game at West High School Friday night and had to answer an early wake-up call for a noon tilt at home against Catholic (13-15). Farragut played a three-hour marathon game at home against Gibbs in its annual throwback game on Thursday, April 28. The Admirals also had wins over William Blount and Lenoir City earlier in the week.

Noland might’ve have gotten the biggest hit of the day. But it wasn’t the longest.

With Farragut trailing 4-2 heading into its final at-bat, senior designated hitter Duncan Pence clubbed a solo home run off Judd to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning to pull the Admirals to within 4-3.

“Duncan hit that ball about as hard as you can hit a baseball,” Buckner said.

Pence said that he simply went with the pitch.

“It was a fast ball and I think he was just trying to overpower me,” he said. “We were tired today and we struggled at times.

“But we were able to get it done in the end.”

The Irish and Admirals were embroiled in a scoreless tie over the first two innings as Farragut senior starting pitcher Jacob Parham made clutch pitches and Catholic’s Connor Pinkard kept the Admirals at bay.

It was KCHS that darted to the early lead in the top of the third inning. Irish designated hitter Alex DiFelice led off the frame with a walk and took second on a wild pitch. DiFelice advanced to third when Brock Hart reached on an error. A groundout by Cullen Smith plated DiFelice to give KCHS a 1-0 lead. Hart took third on the play.

He was, however, stranded there when Parham recorded the final two outs of the frame.

The Admirals knotted things in the bottom of the frame thanks to an RBI double by John Painter drove in Alec Rinehart, who started the rally when he reached on an error with one out.

The two squads traded runs in the fourth. Catholic regained the lead in the top of the frame when Augie Fortune doubled home Sean Kearney to make the score 2-1. Kearney singled in the inning and finished the contest with two hits.

The Admirals knotted things again in the bottom of the inning when a groundout by Noland plated Jake Hagenow, who singled and advanced to third when Venero legged out a bunt single.

Catholic scored a pair of runs to take a 4-2 lead in the top of the sixth. Fortune drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and Hart had an RBI single off Parham, who was relieved by freshman Jake Kohlmeyer. Kohlmeyer got the last out of the inning and would nab his first career varsity victory thanks to Farragut’s comeback.

KCHS first-year coach Caleb Moore was pleased with his squad’s effort despite the heartbreaking loss.

“If we can play with this kind of intensity for the rest of the season, I’ll be happy and we’ll do just fine,” Moore said. “It all really starts for us [this] Saturday in our district tournament.

“A game like this will get us ready for that because we won’t see a team there as good as Farragut.”