After disappointing Class AAA state sectional losses in 2017 and 2018, Farragut baseball coach Matt Buckner wanted Friday night’s game bad.
His Admirals unexpectedly dropped the Region 2-AAA Championship on Wednesday to Hardin Valley, and that meant they had to play this state sectional on the road at Tennessee High in Bristol.
“I wanted to get there (to state) so bad with this team,” he said. “I feel like we’re kind of built for the tournament. We have a lot of depth on the pitching staff. We got a good senior group that’s worked really hard.
“I love them. They’ve invested heavily in their games and done everything I’ve asked. I wanted it bad for them.”
He got his wish.
Kentucky commitment Ryan Hagenow, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound junior, improved his record to 10-1 this season and led Farragut past the host Vikings, 2-0. The Admirals (38-3) return to the state tournament for the first time since 2016.
The Admirals have won nine state titles, the last coming in 2014.
Hagenow out-dueled his pitching counterpart, Virginia Tech signee Gavin Cross — but just barely. Hagenow allowed just three hits and struck out seven against two walks in a complete-game effort.
Cross matched Hagenow’s complete game.
Cross matched Hagenow’s three-hitter.
But one of those hits was a two-run home run by Farragut’s Ashton King, and that blast in the third inning was the difference. Well, that and the fact that the Admirals worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the bottom half of the third.
“I tell you, Ashton King is one heck of a baseball player. He’s probably one of the most competitive kids I’ve met in my life,” said Buckner. “He’s been so big in big moments. He put us on his back at the plate today. He was awesome. I think he barreled up every ball he hit today.”
Pigeon Forge 5, Greeneville 2 – Noah Gent, the 2018 Division II-A Mr. Baseball and a finalist this season in Class AA, came up big with a three-hit game and drove in a run. Logan Harbin drove in two.
But Hunter Monday’s pitching performance against the defending state champions was commendable. He struck out five and threw a complete game, as the Tigers avenged their state sectional loss to Greeneville from a season ago.
Loudon 3, Grundy County 0 — The Redskins made state tournament appearances in 2005 and 2015. They’ll make their third next week.
Greenback 14, Wartburg 1 – The Cherokees notched their third consecutive state-tournament berth with ease thanks to a big fourth inning. Bryce Hanley and Cole Riddle lead Greenback with three RBIs apiece. Josh Edwards added two. Seth Riddle recorded a three-hit game.
University High ended Harriman’s season 11-0 in the Class A sectionals.
Hardin Valley dropped a heart-breaker to visiting Science Hill on Friday, 8-7, in eight innings.