Diamond Ads ‘poor,’ but edge BHS

KNOXVILLE — Longtime Farragut High School baseball head coach Matt Buckner saw his team notch a comeback win Monday night, April 22, against rival Bearden.

The 4-3 road win helped the Admirals keep their perfect District 4-AAA victory streak intact.

But he was anything but happy.

“This is as poor as we’ve played in a long time,” Buckner said after his squad came from behind to beat the Bulldogs before a spirited house at Bearden’s Phil Garner Ballpark. “We haven’t played this poorly in a while.

“You have to give credit to their (starting) pitcher (left-hander Cole Poynter). He did a good job. He was good, but we gave them all the runs they got. We booted a tailor-made double-play ball in the first inning.”

That mistake eventually cost the Ads (28-2 overall, 10-0 in the district) a pair of runs.

Poynter got out of a jam in the top of the first inning. Carter Gillette and Parker Noland started a promising rally with back-to-back singles. But Gillette got picked off second before Cooper Mashburn drew a walk. Poynter escaped damage with a strikeout.

After Patrick Boles drew a leadoff walk for Bearden in the bottom of the first, Jacob Balsley reached on the error that appeared to be a double-play ball.

Bulldogs designated hitter John Beam doubled home Boles. Balsley advanced to third.

He would score when catcher Ben Waybright lifted a sacrifice fly to center field making it 2-0.

Pitching around some early walks, Poynter didn’t surrender another hit until the sixth inning.

Farragut starter Ryan Hagenow flirted with trouble, but he would escape damage with some clutch pitches against the Bulldogs (16-10-1, 5-7).

The Admirals finally broke through in the top of the sixth.

Noland drew a leadoff walk before shortstop Ashton King parked a two-run homer over the left-field fence to knot the game 2-2.

“(Poynter) had been throwing be fastballs all day, so I knew the curve was coming,” said King, who relieved Hagenow on the mound and earned a save, surrendering one run in two innings.

The Ads took a 4-2 lead later in the frame. Mashburn legged out an infield single and was lifted for pinch runner Tanner Corum. Ziegler was hit by a pitch.

Things then got a little crazy. Buckner opted for pinch hitter Bryce Burkey, who laid down a sacrifice bunt. But an errant throw allowed Burkey to reach base. Ziegler and Corum scored.

The Bulldogs made one last gasp. Caden Rector drew a leadoff walk, but was erased by a double play. King then walked Boles, who came home on a hit by Beam.

A groundout ended the game.

“It stinks to lose this one, but we know that we can compete with good teams and we’ll be ready for the district tournament,” Beam said.