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Juniors lead historic run

MURFREESBORO — Led by the “shocked” Man of the Moment, Nicky Delmonico, and the Ironman of the entire Class AAA state baseball tournament, pitcher Philip Pfeifer, Farragut High School Baseball rewrote TSAAA record-books Friday evening.

In just about the most dramatic way possible.

Delmonico provided a storybook Admirals finish in the Class AAA state title game versus Houston May 28 at Oakland High School: smacking a two-out, two-strike change up deep over the right field fence in the bottom of the seventh inning for a walk-off 3-1 FHS win.

“I'm in shock,” Delmonico said moments after his two-run blast, and Pfeifer's remarkably tireless dominance on the mound over four days — more than 250 pitches, 15 innings, 0 earned runs, 25 strikeouts, seven hits — led the Admirals (42-6) to a TSSAA-record third consecutive state crown. It now marks six state titles for Farragut the past eight years.

“I couldn’t believe it until it went over the fence, and then I couldn't wait to get home and see all my teammates,” Delmonico said. “I knew he was going to come back in with a change up since I was out in front [on two previous change ups].

“He left one up and I connected,” added Delmonico, a junior standout shortstop who had three home runs, two triples and two doubles in five state tourney games, ending 2010 with 18 home runs, 75 RBI and a .495 average.

Matt Buckner, FHS head coach, labeled Pfeifer's week “the best pitching performance I've ever witnessed in a four-day span, ever,” as the junior two-time All-state lefty named tourney Most Valuable Player improved to 16-0 on the season — tying a state record — while allowing just one Mustangs hit, a second-inning leadoff double.

Pfeifer walked three but struck out 14 Friday.

“He is so competitive. … His weight room [habits], his working out, his throwing, he's a relentless worker,” Buckner added about Pfeifer, who ended with a 1.23 earned run average and 165 strikeouts this season. “That's why he can do that.

“It's more than any human I've ever seen can do.”

Buckner said Delmonico “is a very special player. He's been in this situation before. He put his mind right and got a pitch and he did what he can do.”

It was Delmonico's error at shortstop with two outs in the fifth inning, however, that allowed Houston (33-13) to tie the game.

“I told [Pfeifer] when I came back in the dugout, ‘let me bat one more time and I promise I'll get it back for you,'” Delmonico said.

Pfeifer said he “was kinda gassed going into” Friday's title game after firing eight innings two of the three previous days — complete game five-hitter in a 4-0 win versus Clarksville Tuesday, and one inning of relief to hold off a late Collierville rally, 6-5, Thursday. “But the second wind came, the adrenaline was pumping, everything was feeling good.”

But a roughly 90-minute rain delay after two-and-half innings was yet another challenge.

“It was new,” Pfeifer said about dealing with the delay. “I actually felt better after the rain delay than before.”

David Allen, FHS senior centerfielder, joined Delmonico and Tyler Noland, senior right fielder, as three Admirals with two hits each Friday.

Noland's two-out single to right field in the FHS second inning set the stage for yet another Ads senior outfielder, left fielder Ryan Montalbano. Montalbano's single to right field easily scored Noland.

“Tyler Noland and Ryan Montalbano were outstanding,” said Buckner, winning his first-ever state crown as a head coach in his first season at FHS. “I told Tyler before the game I thought he was going to have a big game.

“David's played great all year,” Buckner added about Allen.

Houston lefty starter Conlon Palo proved mostly successful in changing speeds and keeping many FHS batters off balance. He allowed six hits, two earned runs and one walk with eight Ks.

Palo’s first and only walk, a one-out free pass to freshman Cameron Strickland in the bottom of the seventh, brought in HHS reliever Thomas Beamish, who gave up Delmonico’s home run.

A.J. Simcox, sophomore starter at third, had an RBI triple in Farragut’s shutout win against Clarksville.


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