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What suspensions? Diamond Ads blister Bearden

Chris Hamilton and his Bearden Bulldogs knew that Farragut was missing six starters, nine total players — suspended for “violation of team conduct” according to FHS head coach Matt Buckner.

But with Admirals All-state lefty ace Philip Pfeifer very much available, allowing the Bulldogs just one run and one hit with nine strikeouts in five innings, perhaps scratching out a couple of runs might be enough for the navy blue team.

Farragut's relatively young and largely inexperienced lineup did much more, thank you, scoring six runs out of the gate in the first inning en route to an easy 8-1 District 4-AAA victory at BHS's Phil Garner Field Friday night, April 1.

“I feel like going in it was a lose-lose situation, because if we did win they were going to use the excuse that they weren't at full strength; and if we lost it was even more of a morale loss,” said Hamilton, BHS senior centerfielder.

A three-run first-inning homer from senior designated hitter Derek Chandler plus two-hit nights from sophomore shortstop Cameron Strickland and senior centerfielder Daniel Huggins were critical.

While Farragut improved to 5-0 in district, 10-2 overall entering the week, the Bulldogs fell to 7-6, 3-2.

“It was great; we had to come out with intensity tonight, and that's exactly what we did,” said Strickland, regular starting centerfielder pressed into shortstop duty.

“Our whole infield was underclassmen, and that's awesome to see us play like that.”

Huggins said the Admirals “needed a team effort, and I thought we came out and we did our jobs.”

With rival Bearden as the opponent, Huggins said he was “feeling it” early in the game, adding, “I knew we were going to come out here and win. I didn't have much nerves, really.”

For a second straight game, FHS was missing senior catcher and three-time All-state honoree Nicky Delmonico and three other infield starters — senior third baseman Chandler Vannoy, junior shortstop A.J. Simcox and sophomore second baseman Nick Senzel — plus starting senior left fielder Scott Miller and part-time starting outfielder Anthony El Chibani, a sophomore.

“I'm proud of the way our team responded,” Buckner said. “The guys were great on the bench. We came out and we set the tone early. … We had other guys that stepped up and did a great job.”

First-inning singles by junior left fielder Braden Urevick and Strickland preceded a walk to senior left fielder Xander Taylor off BHS starter Zach Sale, a junior.

An RBI groundout by freshman first baseman Chase Chambers and Huggins' infield RBI single made it 2-0. A balk made it 3-0. Sophomore catcher Brett Hagenow walked before Chandler's big blow.

“It was a fastball inside,” Chandler said, adding about the team mood, “Everybody's been supporting each other.”

Strickland doubled down the left field line in the second inning off Bulldogs relief pitcher Marshall Wilkins. He scored on Taylor's sacrifice fly making it 7-0. Taylor ended with one hit.

Bearden's lone run, and only hit all night, came in the fourth and began with Hamilton's leadoff single. A wild pitch and fielder's choice got Hamilton to third, then Derek Lance's sacrifice fly plated the BHS senior centerfielder.

“I hit a fastball,” Hamilton said. “We had a gameplan of hitting the first fastball that we saw that would have been a strike. Jump all over that because [Pfeifer's] got good command of all of his off-speed [pitches].”

“His speed is phenomenal,” Hamilton added. “That fact that he's a lefty and [his pitches] tail so much. He's got command of three, four, maybe five pitches.

“And as the game goes on he just gets better.”

The Ads' other run came in the fifth. Huggins doubled and scored on Hagenow's infield hit.

Taylor relieved Pfeifer and worked two scoreless innings: no hits, three strikeouts, two walks and a hit batter.

Buckner said all suspended Ads have returned to full duty.

Jack Tate, BHS head coach, said senior catcher Drew Pasillas “hit the ball hard twice” despite not reaching base.


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