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Region secured
Delmonico, Pfeifer lead FHS past Rebs, into region tourney

Nicky Delmonico did everything asked of him Monday night.

Delmonico, Farragut High School's senior utility player, socked two home runs and pitched the final inning in the Admirals' 5-1 victory over Maryville in the winner's bracket semifinal of the District 4-AAA Baseball Tournament at Farragut's John Heatherly Field May 9.

“Nicky was on tonight and when he's on, we're hard to handle,” said Admirals head coach Matt Bucker, whose team secured a Region 2-AAA berth and played for the 4-AAA title Wednesday, May 11 (after deadline).

“He's a special player and he really performs when the pressure's on,” Buckner added about Delmonico. “He takes the pressure off the other guys in the lineup.”

Delmonico couldn't have stepped up at a better time for the top-seeded Admirals.

His first blow came in the fourth inning of what seemed a classic pitcher's duel between Rebels ace Tommy Wilkinson and Farragut standout left-hander Philip Pfeifer, who was making his first start in nearly a month after recovering from rotator cuff tendonistis in his left pitching shoulder.

Delmonico stepped to the plate and parked a Wilkinson fastball over the left field fence to give Farragut a 1-0 lead.

That was merely the start of a big inning for the Admirals.

“I took the first two fast balls he threw and I knew I was going to get another one and I sat on it,” Delmonico said. “I was really feeling good tonight.”

Delmonico's solo blast appeared to rattle Wilkinson. The Rebels right-hander surrendered two more runs in the frame.

Xander Taylor, the next hitter after Monday night's hero, was hit by a pitch before Scott Miller singled. Taylor advanced to third on the play. Wilkinson went on to hit Nick Senzel.

Farragut (30-6) took a 2-0 lead when Taylor scored on a wild pitch by Wilkinson, who cruised through the first three innings. Senzel would close out the scoring in the frame when he crossed the plate on a groundout by third baseman Chandler Vannoy.

Delmonico, who nearly put the Ads on the board in the bottom of the first, also had a two-run blast in the fifth to make it 5-0.

Meanwhile, Pfeifer, Farragut's ace who relieved in Farragut's second-round 12-7 victory over Knoxville Catholic May 7, struggled early as the No. 3-seeded Rebels stranded runners in each of the first three innings.

“He has been injured and this was the first real work that's he's had in four weeks,” Buckner said of Pfeifer. “He had trouble finding his rhythm.

“But he got stronger later in the game and when he finds his rhythm, he's a world for these hitters to handle.”

Pfeifer had walks in both the first and second before surrendering the game's first hit to Andrew Rouse.

Farragut's ace, however, settled nicely. He went six innings and surrendered two hits (both to Rouse) and three walks. Pfeifer had five strikeouts and retired nine of the last 10 Rebels he faced.

“Winning this game was huge for my team,” Pfeifer said. “I could have probably gone a little bit longer but my team really needed this game.

“My feel was off [early] but I got a second win off Nicky's first home run and we got the momentum to swing our way. I'm really excited because this gives us a chance to rest.”

The Rebels scored their lone run in the seventh with two out.


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