Trips to the Class AAA State Tournament have become the norm for the Farragut High School baseball team and the Admirals have punched another ticket to Murfreesboro.
Farragut, which last missed the tournament field in 2007, clinched its latest state bid with a 13-0 five-inning victory over Morristown East in a Section 1-AAA tilt Friday at John Heatherly Field at The Ballpark at Farragut.
“It feels great to go back to state,” said senior pitcher Dylan Pacifico, who hurled four scoreless innings and had eight strikeouts against the Hur-ricanes on an otherwise gloomy day in Farragut. “I take it for granted that we’re always going to get to state but I know I shouldn’t.”
The Admirals certainly didn’t appear to be taking things for granted in a game that was played on Friday morning due to Morristown East’s graduation ceremony and the threat of impending inclement weather.
Pacifico opened the game by striking out the side in the top of the first inning, although he had to work his way around a two-out error in the inaugural frame.
The contest, however, didn’t remain scoreless for long.
The Admirals (37-6) scored six runs in the bottom of the first. Farragut had just three of its 14 hits in the first but made the Hurricanes (28-10) pay the price for two errors and a wild pitch.
Cole Morgan led off and reached on an error and took second on a single by The University of Tennessee signee Duncan Pence. Both players advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Jake Hagenow.
Morgan came home with the game’s first run when Hurricanes left-hander Ryan Lloyd uncorked a wild pitch. Pence then scored when junior second baseman Justen Free-man had a sacrifice fly but reached on an error when the ball fell out a Morristown East outfielder’s glove. Parker Noland and John Painter both walked to load the bases, which were cleared in a hurry. Chandler Chambers blew things open with a three-run triple to make the score 5-0 in an inning where the Admirals sent 10 batters to the plate.
Chambers later scored when Alec Reinhart singled.
“Chandler Chambers had a big double for us there in the first inning,” Farragut coach Matt Buckner said.
Chambers said that FHS knew what it had to do when it answered an early wake-up call to come to the ballpark. The Admirals, which last won a championship in Murfreesboro in 2014, lost in extra innings to Hardin Valley in the 2015 title game. And the Farragut junior said that that served as motivation all season.
“What happened to us last year lit a fire in our bellies,” said Chambers, who had a pair of doubles and knocked in four runs against the Hurricanes. “We came out and we had that big inning today.
“That gave us a little confidence and we just turned it on. We have confidence that we can go down there and win a state championship.”
The postgame celebration was relatively low-key and that is just the way Buckner likes it.
“I see other teams make it to state and they’re dogpiling on each other,” he said. “You see this because we expect to make it every year. We work 12 months of the year for these two weeks and we’ve had an incredible run. We’ve made it to the state 17 times in the last 18 seasons.
“I’m not saying that we’re going to win. But I will say that we’re going to go down there and try to win. We’re not going to go down to finish in second place.”
Farragut took a 7-0 lead in the second when Freeman doubled and scored on a single by Carmelo Venero. The Admirals added three more runs in the third thanks to an RBI double by Chambers, a sacrifice fly by Rinehart and a scoring single by Morgan.
Rinehart had an RBI single in the fourth and John Painter closed out the scoring with a two-run single before pitching a scoreless fifth.
Hurricanes coach Ryan Haun saw his team stifled offensively but said he is hoping that Friday was the beginning of big things for his program.
“Morristown East was a baseball powerhouse in the 70s, 80s and 90s,” Haun said. “As a native of Morristown, I want to see it get back to that level. We won 28 games this year.
“That’s the second most in school history. We won 31 in 1977 and for us; it’s all about consistency now.”