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Championship Blue
Ads’ ‘4-peat’ earned no-hitter style, 2-0


MURFREESBORO — Philip Pfeifer surprised most observers by starting, then Xander Taylor relieved and finished the task on guts, fumes and clutch pitches leading to a Admirals staff no-hitter Friday evening.

And Farragut Baseball’s fourth consecutive Class AAA state championship — seventh Tennessee crown in nine years, which is more improbable than any other with its staff ace only throwing 24 pitches in four state games.

But those 24 pitches from Pfeifer, state record holder for career wins bothered by shoulder tendonitis most of the season, were valuable in Farragut’s 2-0 victory against Columbia Central in the title game May 27 at MTSU’s Reese Smith Jr. Field.

“It felt good this past week … the doctor didn’t say I couldn’t throw on it, and my parents were all for it,” said Pfeifer, who threw just 1 1/3 innings (one walk, no hits, 25-pitch limit). “It was kinda understood between us and the doctor that I wouldn’t be throwing for six weeks.”


However, “I wanted to give my team everything that I could, and they ended up coming through and carrying me home,” the senior lefty added. “Maybe some divine intervention.”

Taylor said Pfeifer displayed “a lot of heart, he wanted it bad.”

Nicky Delmonico — Ads offensive star in Murfreesboro with two home runs and five doubles plus three saves in pitching relief in four games — said Pfeifer had a “huge performance that got our team going, and it really pumped our team up.”

But Taylor, a junior and No. 2 Ads starter, was the iron man Friday as winning pitcher (5 2/3 innings, three strikeouts, six walks, one hit batter) on just two days rest after working five innings in a 12-3 win to open state play May 27 versus Soddy-Daisy.

“Xander got out of two big jams, made huge pitches,” FHS head coach Matt Buckner said. “Just a stunning performance tonight. … His stuff was dominant.”

Scott Miller, senior right fielder who helped out Taylor with a diving catch and a double play put-out to end a fifth-inning jam, said Taylor “battled, you couldn’t ask much more of him.”

Taylor said, “I’ve had a lot of shoulder problems lately, and this whole game I wasn’t a hundred percent. ... I was almost out of gas there. Probably in the fifth, I was like, ‘I’ve got to get through this. I want this championship.’”

Anthony El Chibani, sophomore left fielder with two of FHS’s five hits while scoring the game’s first run, ended the game with a diving catch in short left-centerfield.

“My heart was racing, I thought that ball was down,” Taylor said. “He just got a great jump on the ball. Thank God he caught it.

“My team made some crazy plays: Scotty making the double play,” Taylor added.

Buckner said his outfielders, also including sophomore centerfielder Cameron Strickland, “were unbelievable.”

Nick Senzel, sophomore second baseman, stroked two singles Friday after a huge game versus Collierville Wednesday — three hits and a sacrifice fly, including a two-out game-tying single in the seventh before Delmonico’s three-run extra-inning homer for a 9-6 eight inning win.

In the title game, El Chibani led off the FHS bottom of the first with an infield hit, took second on a wild pick-off throw, moved to third on a grounder and scored on A.J. Simcox’s sacrifice fly.

Delmonico doubled to left-centerfield with one out in the third, moved to third base on a wild pitch and scored on Miller’s groundout to second.

Buckner said about Delmonico, “He’s the best player that I’ve ever seen play on a baseball field.”

As catcher, Delmonico’s “game knowledge” according to Buckner allowed the senior to call all pitches. “All the credit goes to him.”

Taylor’s weariness did result in scattering six walks and one hit batter — two of which, along with a pass ball on a strikeout, had the bases loaded for Columbia with one out in the fourth.

But Taylor got a strikeout and flyout to end the threat.

A one-out walk and hit batter in the Columbia fifth preceded Miller’s catch in right-centerfield for the double-off at second.

Helping the Ads reach Friday’s title game was Thursday’s pitching performance of sophomore starter Eric Freeman versus Collierville, working six innings allowing no runs, five hits and three walks with nine strikeouts.

The end result, with one inning of Delmonico relief help, was a 1-0 win to eliminate the Dragons.

Miller’s third inning double chased home Delmonico, who doubled with one out.

Simcox had two-hit games versus Soddy-Daisy and in the 9-6 Collierville win, while catcher Brett Hagenow added a clutch single versus CHS May 25.

Delmonico said the four state title run of he and Pfeifer “is a blessing, God put me around so many good teammates and such good coaches. It’s so easy to play the game when you have a bunch of people who care about each other and just love to play.”

Senior Derek Chandler, FHS No. 3 pitching starter, said “it would be weird if we didn’t win it. As seniors, we’ve been used to winning state championships every year.”

Chandler Vannoy, Ads senior third baseman who contributed key at-bats in the 9-6 Collierville win plus two relief appearances on the mound, summed up the 2011 crown as “unbelievable.”

 

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