HARDIN VALLEY — Before two sets of packed bleachers — as well as dozens standing around — Monday night, March 27, at home, the big bats of Hardin Valley Academy’s undefeated baseball team showed up yet again.
But the victim this time was District 4-4A archrival Farragut. The Hawks combined timely hitting and opportunistic defense to roll over the defending state champions 9-2.
Hawks head coach Tyler Roach was pleased with the win, but knows it’s only one game.
“We have a month-and-a-half left,” Roach said. “I’m not putting too much stock in it, but we’re a good team and we played a good game.”
“They played better than we did, bottom line,” said Matt Buckner, Admirals head coach. “We didn’t do a very good job pitching, didn’t do a very good job playing offense … gotta grow up and get better.”
After Eli Evans’ first-inning home run for the Ads, HVA scored three in the bottom of the inning. Ty Denton singled in Caleb Neely and a passed ball scored Carson Hoffmeister who had walked. Will Webb’s sac fly brought in Denton.
A critical point in the game came in the third. Down 3-1, three straight FHS batters walked with no outs. But a strikeout and double play groundout ended the threat.
In the bottom of the frame, Denton hit a line-shot two-run homer to left field. It was 5-1.
“I saw a pitch down the middle,” Denton said. “I squared up and didn’t try to swing too hard, and just drove the baseball. I immediately knew and turned to the dugout.”
Jake Merrick’s home run for FHS made it 5-2 in the fourth, but the Hawks scored two more in the inning to make it 7-2.
The Ads had another opportunity in the fifth: runners on second and third with one out. But a strikeout and a groundout killed the threat.
“Gotta score,” coach Buckner said. “A chance to get it close (in the third) … could have been a different ballgame. Gotta do a better job putting balls in play and pitching.”
In the bottom of the fifth, Neely hit a bloop single with the bases loaded, scoring HVA’s final two runs and putting the game out of reach.
Hawks’ starter Adam Baker went six innings, giving up six hits and two runs. Admirals starter Stratton Scott gave up seven hits and six runs over three-and-two-third innings.
HVA improved to 9-0 and is putting up big offensive numbers. Five times the Hawks have scored in double digits. FHS fell to 8-2.
“We have lot of mature players, you can see the way they’re playing the game,” Roach said. “We’ve been swinging the bat all year … they make my job easy. We’ve played well; can’t ask for anything more.”
“It’s a super-big win,” Denton said. “Farragut is always competitive, and to get out here and beat them 9-2 is a great feeling. But we can’t get too happy; gotta practice and keep playing hard.”