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Ads overcome controversy, blown chances with rally in 9-inning victory versus KD-B

It was already 6 2/3 tightly contested innings as defending state champion Farragut battled powerful, experienced Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett while looking for its first win in four tries this season.

Then came the last 2 2/3s innings of shear drama — beginning with an apparent phantom home run that allowed KD-B to tie it with two outs in the top of the seventh.

But the issue was finally settled thanks to big plays from unheralded Admirals rallying their team.

Farragut catcher Michael Williams capped a chilly night of late-inning drama with a two-out, two-strike sharp single up the middle bringing home the tying and winning runs in the ninth.

The Ads claimed a thrilling 6-5 victory in nine innings versus the Indians at John Heatherly Field Saturday, March 17. The rally began with a man at first and two outs.

“It was a curve ball down the middle, and I saw it good,” said Williams, a junior who’s also a DH. “I had a feeling it was going to be a curve ball.”

Admiral sophomore pitcher Mac Thoreson had a tough-luck no-decision, tossing seven innings and allowing four earned runs, eight hits and two walks while striking out six.

The sophomore bounced back from a rough fourth inning, allowing three runs and three hits, to settle down before the controversial home run.

The home plate umpired ruled a lodeep fly ball to right-centerfield hit the very top of the wall, bounced over into the new protective netting behind the wall and came back on to the field.

FHS head coach Tommy Pharr strongly disagreed, saying the ball hit the top of the fence but stayed in play. “On a night like tonight [no wind], no way,” Pharr said. “If it hit the wind screen it would drop straight down.” About the home plate umpire’s call, “I think he made the call too quick and he couldn’t back-track.”

Suddenly, Thoreson had to deal with a bad break when tasting victory. “You can’t get caught up in the umpire’s calls,” he said. “It’s something you can’t control. My teammates did a wonderful job picking me up. … Coach always talks about overcoming adversity.”

Pharr added, “I thought Mac pitched really good.”

Farragut then had a golden chance to settle the issue in the bottom of the eighth — bases loaded and none out.

But a lineout to second base and throw to double off FHS runner Ethan Bennett at third base created two outs. The throw got away and Bennett tried to score, but was gunned down at home. “I ran us out of that inning,” Pharr said.

The next Admiral batter struck out to end the threat.

Dobyns-Bennett then came up with a pair of two-out scoring-position singles in the top of the ninth — the first, with a two-strike count, put KD-B up 5-4.

The second would have made it 6-4, but Admiral right fielder Jordan Cooper gunned down the runner at home to keep it 5-4. “Huge play,” Pharr said.

A one-out error in the bottom of the ninth allowed Matt Ramsey to reach. After a strikeout, Cade Stallings walked. Both men moved up on a wild pitch before Williams delivered.

“The guys competed hard tonight, and came back after some controversy,” Pharr said. “I thought they did a good job of hanging in there and playing hard. We found a way to win. It was good to overcome so they could see that we can overcome a little adversity and battle through it.”

Senior pitcher Jordan Pleasant came on to relieve Thoreson in the eighth — the first big pitching moment of his career. “Jordan Pleasant came on there at the end and did a great job,” Pharr said. “He's my back-up infield who really decided to pitch this year.”

A second-inning Williams groundout scored Eric Bigeral, pinch running for Thoreson who singled sharply to right field. Stallings, who doubled, scored on a wild pitch, making it 2-0. Catcher Zach Allen added a double.

Thoreson gave up a lead-off solo home run in the fourth, then allowed two walks and three singles for two more runs. One of the hits was a pop-up to short left field that should have been caught.

Joey Delmonico came off the bench to rally FHS in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs and two strikes, the junior delivered a sharp single to right scoring Bigeral and Allen making it 4-3.

In addition to throwing out a runner at the plate, Ramsey, a junior center fielder, had two hits, including a two-out triple in the seventh inning.


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