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Owls, Burke, end rough week for Diamond Ads

It was already a rough week for the Farragut High School baseball team when they had to stand at the plate and face one of the nation’s top 100-rated prospects Saturday.

Ooltewah ace southpaw pitcher Kyler Burke, a Vanderbilt signee rated the No. 79 player in the nation by the Baseball America publication, struck out 15 FHS batters in six innings while allowing five hits and six walks before being lifted in the bottom of the seventh.

His Owls whipped the Admirals 9-4 April 8 in a game moved from FHS’s John Heatherly Field (damp conditions) to Bearden’s Phil Garner Field.

Also losing to District 4-AAA power South-Doyle (13-3) and William Blount (12-3), Farragut managed a 3-2 win against Morristown West at FHS Tuesday, April 4.

The Ads carried a 10-8 overall record, 3-4 in the district, entering the week.

As for Burke, “He’s like [Ryan] Holland [of South-Doyle], those two guys are very similar, I would think, velocity-wise and what they do,” FHS head coach Tommy Pharr said, adding he’s concerned about 15 of the team’s first 18 outs being strikeouts. “We’ve got to put it into play better than that.”

Ty Nelson, who doubled off of Burke, said the talented Vandy signee is “pretty good, he spots well.”

Saying he hit a Burke fastball, Nelson added the Owl ace “started off just throwing fastballs. Once he saw we started hitting that, he started throwing more off-speed. He was hitting his spots real well.”

Nelson said Burke is the second-best pitcher the Ads have faced, ranking behind Holland.

Down 5-0 in the second inning, Farragut got an RBI single from Ryan Bentley and an RBI walk from Matt Ramsey with the bases loaded. Chip Eskew also singled in the second.

David Reynolds’ RBI single scored Nelson pinch-runner, Stephen Guerrette, in the third inning, cutting the lead to 5-3.

The Owls, who outhit FHS 14 to 5, scored two runs in the top of the fourth and two more in the top of the sixth.

Nelson’s sacrifice fly in the seventh accounted for Farragut’s last run. Rob Catapano’s seventh-inning single was the other Admiral hit.

Against Morristown East, winning pitcher Ramsey went the distance, allowing five hits and no walks with seven strikeouts in seven innings.

Eskew’s solo homer in the fifth inning broke a 2-2 tie. Other FHS hits came from Barton Ivy, who doubled, along with Nelson, Joey Delmonico and Cade Stallings.

Losing to South-Doyle in five innings at SDHS Monday, April 3, Eskew led the Admiral offense with two hits. Catapano had a single and two RBIs.

Falling to 4-AAA foe William Blount at FHS Wednesday, April 5, Farragut was led offensively by Nelson’s pair of extra-base hits. In addition to his triple, Nelson’s third-inning double scored two.

Kurt Powell added two hits.

Speaking about his team’s youth in explaining the Ads’ struggles, “It’s been up and down, that’s kinda been the story of our season,” Pharr said.


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