Farragut High School’s baseball team punched its ticket to the Class AAA state tournament with a 13-0 victory over Morristown East in a sectional game at John Heatherly Field at the Ballpark in Farragut.
The Admirals, who posted a runner-up finish in Murfreesboro in 2015, will begin their quest for a 10th state title Tuesday.
Farragut (37-6) had endured some offensive struggles during the postseason but broke out in a big way against Powell in the Region 2-AAA championship game in Farragut on Wednesday night. The Admirals scored five runs in their last at-bat against the Panthers and came off the field with a 6-5 victory after erasing an early five-run deficit.
Farragut wasted little time Friday picking up where it left off Wednesday. The Admirals took advantage of a pair of errors by the Hurricanes in the bottom of the first and scored six runs on just three hits in the bottom of the first inning.
Senior center fielder Cole Morgan reached on an error to lead off the frame. Duncan Pence singled. Those runners advanced when Jake Hagenow successfully executed a sacrifice bunt. Morgan scored the game’s first run on a wild pitch and Pence scored when Justen Freeman reached on a two-base error. Junior right fielder Chandler Chambers delivered the big blow when he had a three-run double.
“It was great for me to have a day like this today,” said Chambers, who went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles and two runs. He also drove in four for the Admirals, who added another run on Alec Rinehart’s RBI single.
Farragut made it 7-0 with two outs in the bottom of the second when Carmelo Venero singled home Freeman, who doubled earlier in the inning.
While Farragut, which pounded out 14 hits in the contest, had little trouble against Hurricanes starter Ryan Lloyd, Morristown East (28-10) managed just one hit off Farragut senior ace Dylan Pacifico.
Pacifico went four innings and allowed just one hit. He struck out eight and had to work his way around two errors by the Admirals, who last won a Class AAA state championship in 2014. He struck out the side in the first and third innings.
The Admirals extended their edge to 10-0 when they plated three more runs in the third.
Chambers and Morgan each had RBI singles, and Rinehart knocked in another run with a sacrifice fly.
Farragut got three more runs in the fourth off Morristown East reliever Randal Morgan.
John Painter, who pitched a scoreless fifth to close the game, had a two-run single before taking the mound. Rinehart added another scoring single.
Admirals coach Matt Buckner said this was his team’s best effort in some time.
“We haven’t played particularly well lately,” Buckner said. “This is the best game that we’ve played in two weeks.
“We swung the bats well today, and Dylan was really sharp. I’m proud of our kids’ effort. They’ve worked so hard. We work 12 months of the year for these two weeks.”
Pacifico echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“It makes me happy to get another chance to go back to state,” he said. “I take it for granted that we’re going to go to state. I know I shouldn’t.
“We got out to a big lead, and when we do that, it gives me confidence.”
The Hurricanes, who got their only hit of the game when Spencer Odom singled in the third inning, completed their season with 28 wins. That represents the second-most victories in four seasons. Morristown East won 31 games in 1977, and coach Ryan Haun said he was pleased with the 2016 campaign despite seeing his squad drop its last two games.
“Back in the ’80s and ’90s, Morristown East was a baseball powerhouse,” Haun said. “I’m a native of Morristown and I want to see us get back to that level.
“It’s all about consistency for us right now.”
In another sectional game this weekend, Powell, the Region 2 runner-up, will play at Sevier County, the Region 1 champion, at 6 p.m. Saturday for a chance to go to the state tournament.
Ken Lay is a freelance contributor to Oak Ridge Today.
Copyright 2016 Oak Ridge Today. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.