FHS baseball clinch another regional berth

Despite seeing his team record a lopsided victory in the opening round of the District 4-AAA Tournament, Farragut High School baseball coach Matt Buckner was anything but happy.

“The only good thing you can say about this game is that we won,” Buckner said after the top-seeded Admirals routed Lenoir City 10-3 Friday night at John Heatherly Field at the Ballpark in Farragut. “We had an average to poor effort all the way around.

“But that doesn’t matter now. All that matters is that we won the game.”

Farragut managed just seven hits in the contest but was able to take advantage of five errors by the eighth-seeded Panthers. Lenoir City starts a number of underclassmen and didn’t notch a district win all season.

But LCHS, which saw its season come to an end with a loss to fourth-seeded West High on Saturday, managed to hang tough early.

Panthers starting pitcher Nick Plemons surrendered a two-out triple to Duncan Pence in the bottom of the opening frame. He was, however, able to get out of the inning when he caught Jake Hagenow looking.

Plemons was also able to pitch around an error in the bottom of the second.

The Admirals finally broke through and scored seven runs with the benefit of just three hits in the bottom of the third inning.

Alec Rinehart led off the frame and was hit by a pitch he stole second and advanced to third when Cole Morgan legged out an infield single. John Painter then drew a walk to load the bases. Rinehart scored when Duncan Pence reached on an error to give the Admirals a 1-0 lead.

Hagenow drew a bases-loaded walk to score Morgan to make it 2-0. The Admirals took advantage of errors, wild pitches and passed balls to score three runs. Parker Noland drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and Rinehart had an RBI single on his second plate appearance of the frame.

When the dust had settled, the Admirals sent 12 hitters to the plate and managed to blow things open.

“We just came alive in that third inning,” Rinehart said. “We didn’t get a lot of hits but we were able to take advantage of some things that they gave us.

“We got runners on and we were able to score when [Lenoir City] made some mistakes. That’s important because any team can win on any given day in baseball.”

Senior and Tennessee Tech signee Jacob Parham started for the Admirals he had seven strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings and kept the Panthers off the board until the sixth inning despite struggling at points throughout the contest.

“I actually didn’t think I had my best stuff, said Parham, who couldn’t get out of the sixth inning. “It was good enough to help the team get a win in the first game in the district tournament.

“But it definitely wasn’t my best stuff.”

Buckner agreed.

“He was very average today,” Buckner said of Parham, who hit a batter and gave up three runs, while walking one and yielding five hits.

Farragut extended its advantage to 9-0 in the bottom of the fifth when Morgan reached on a one-out single and scored on Duncan Pence’s two-run homer.

The Panthers scored three runs in the top of the sixth. Dalton Smith, who entered to pitch in the bottom of the fifth, had a two-run single and Cody Clevenger, the Panthers center fielder, also drove in a run when he singled with two out in the frame.

Farragut scored its final run of the contest when Zach Yunger scored on a defensive miscue by Lenoir City. Parker Noland had a double in the inning and was lifted for Yunger, who scored when Morgan reached on an error.

Farragut notched a 5-0 win over fifth-seeded Maryville on Saturday.

Pence, a University of Tenn-essee signee, hit a three-run round tripper against the Red Rebels with two outs in the bottom of the second.

The Admirals, who again struggled at the plate, added runs in the third in the fifth. But Buckner wasn’t happy.

“We played very poorly offensively,” he said after Farragut left the bases loaded three times and had stranded 12 runners by game’s end.

Farragut saw its long streak of consecutive wins snapped Monday night when it dropped a 7-6 decision to defending Class AAA State Champion Hardin Valley Academy in a rematch of the 2015 State Championship Game.

The Admirals swept the Hawks (26-7-1) during the regular season and had won 19 consecutive games entering the third round of the district tournament.

Farragut, which got four hits from Pence, darted to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and had a 6-5 lead before the Hawks plated two runs in the top of the seventh.

Drew Parks pitched a scoreless final inning for HVA and bounced the Admirals from the winner’s bracket.

Farragut, however, rebounded to eliminate Maryville 3-2 in eight innings Tuesday night.

Morgan reached base four times and scored the winning run against the Red Rebels.

That win earned the Admirals (34-5) a Region 2-AAA Tournament berth. The Hawks and Farragut played for the district title Wednesday but results were unavailable at press time.