Just when Farragut baseball temporarily hit bottom with a rare mistake-filled postseason game, the Admirals surprised few in high school baseball circles with its rally — against a stellar Hardin Valley Academy team that’s also a big rival — to sweep a doubleheader and win the District 4-AAA tourney title.
The teams’ paths continued in opposite directions during Monday’s must-win Region 2-AAA semifinals: Farragut improved to 34-5 after rolling to a home victory against Knox Central, 11-1, and a guaranteed substate berth, while the Hawks’ season came to a painful end (27-9) at District 3-AAA champ Powell, losing 2-1 May 17.
(The Ads’ Wednesday, May 19, region tourney title game at Powell was played after press deadline).
“The guys really work hard at the game, and we weren’t going to come in and lay down for them,” Admirals skipper Matt Buckner said about his team’s turnaround from a 7-2 district tourney winner’s bracket loss to HVA at home Monday, May 10.
“We grinded through two games (wins versus the Hawks of 4-1 and 5-2 in eight innings Wednesday, May 12) and played really good baseball. I was proud of our guys, obviously.”
Regardless of Wednesday’s outcome, the Admirals will either host or play at Johnson City Science Hill or Seymour, which also depends on the outcome of their Region 1-AAA title game outcome.
Including the team’s five-inning “run rule” victory against the No. 2 3-AAA-seeded Bobcats (22-11), “We’re doing some good things. We pitched well today,” Buckner said about senior starter Hunter Merrick, who allowed just one earned run, two hits and no walks with eight strikeouts in a complete-game (five innings) effort. “We played good defense.
When you do that you’ve got a great shot.”
Offensively, “with our senior veteran guys, and really all through the line-up, had some big hits,” he added. “Bryce (Burkey) there in the first inning (solo homer) … and TK (Tanner Kim) with a big (RBI) double, which scored Angus Pence, who singled, putting Farragut up 2-1.
Consecutive second-inning singles from --- Brewer, Parker Evans and Burkey, who laid down a bunt safety, came before Kim’s two-RBI single making it 4-1. Errors would allow two more FHS runs to score that inning.
A pair of freshmen made it 7-1, as Lukas Buckner drove in Eli Evans, who doubled to begin the fourth inning.