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One ’Dawg of a game at BHS
Copeland, Bearden defense, Greenway-Edwards homers highlight dramatic 2-1 win versus Farragut

Back-to-back home runs, a pitcher who battled out of five jams in seven innings almost unscathed — and clutch defense helping un-jam those messes.

As first reported at Farragut First Edition, April 20, it added up to a 2-1 Bearden upset victory against defending Class AAA state champ and archrival Farragut in a dramatic finish Monday evening, April 20, at BHS’s Phil Garner Field.

Winning pitcher Garrett Copeland allowed just four hits with three strikeouts, but six walks and a hit batter made things dicey.

Coming off labrum surgery in 2007 and 6-0 this season, “He’s worked real hard to get back to this point, and I’m really, really happy for him. ... That’s the best he’s pitched all year,” said BHS head coach Matt Buckner, whose Bulldogs improved to 23-10-1 overall, 9-3 in District 4-AAA. Farragut fell to 25-5, 11-1.

Copeland’s offense made excellent use of Bearden’s only two hits: back-to-back second-inning home runs by second baseman Sean Greenway and right fielder Jacob Edwards.

Already bailed out of a first inning jam with a lunging catch in right center field by Edwards, then a fourth-inning double-play to erase a two on, one out threat, Copeland had his biggest challenge in the dramatic conclusion leading 2-0.

After the senior lefty walked Tyler Noland to begin the FHS seventh, Trip Keeton’s sharply stroked one-out single to left field preceded Curt Powell’s deep frozen rope single off the right center field wall, scoring Noland and cutting the lead in half.

After Nicky Delmonico popped out, Cade Stallings walked on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases.

Mac Thoreson and Copeland then battled into the same count, 3-2, before centerfielder Jonathan Elmore saved the Bulldogs’ day with his diving catch of Thoreson’s sinking line drive to center, ending the game.

“Jonathan Elmore, I mean that’s a big-time play,” Buckner said. “That’s a pressure-packed play. Our outfield has played really well all year.”.

Copeland said, “At first I thought when he hit it, it was going to be down, but then I turned and I saw Elmore was running so I knew he had a chance to get it. My defense made big plays for me tonight when I was struggling. I had outfielders running balls down, infielders turning double plays.”

This was Bearden’s second win versus FHS this season, having blanked FHA 4-0 in the Sportsbelle Classic title game April 4 thanks to a no-hitter fired by sophomore Chris Hamilton.

As for confidence, “We’ve had some tough breaks lately, but coming into this game we knew we could play with them from our last two games [also a 10-4 Admirals win at FHS March 25],” Copeland said. “We stuck with it, had heart and kept competing.”

Now fully recovered from that injured labrum keeping Copeland from pitching the entire 2007 season, “My last two starts have been my best two starts since that surgery,” he said.

Farragut head coach Tommy Pharr said “we hit some balls hard and they made some plays, did a good job. I thought we hit more balls hard than they did, they just made really good plays on ’em.”

Admirals pitcher Philip Pfeifer was a tough luck loser, only allowing the home runs plus four walks while striking out 10 in six innings.

“I think that’s probably the only two balls they hit hard, but that’s all they needed,” Pharr said.

Buckner said Pfeifer “is tough to hit, but we were able to get a couple of good swings on ’em. ... Fortunately for us it was enough.”

Edwards, a senior signee with the University of North Carolina-Asheville, said his home run pitch “was a change-up. I was looking for off-speed and he gave it to me, up and in, and I turned on it.

“We had [Garrett] Copeland on the mound, great pitcher, throwing strikes,” Edwards added. “Just letting them put it in play and our defense made plays. Great job by every player, one through nine.”

Pharr said junior starting catcher Ethan Bennett is out “two weeks at least” after suffering a “non-displaced fracture in his wrist.” Delmonico, a sophomore who moved from second base to catcher while Keeton played second, doubled in the third inning.

Keeton, a senior, made the most of his chance with two singles — half of Farragut’s hit total. “He did a good job filling in,” Pharr said. “Hopefully that’s something to build on.”

Last week, FHS beat Lenoir City twice — 11-0 and 12-2 — and took out William Blount 11-1.

Bearden beat Maryville 2-1, but lost to Heritage 15-2 and went 1-2-1 in the 16-team Soddy-Daisy Trojan Classic April 17-19.


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