Late push

Diamond Ads back in region, beat rival 6-2

Much was on the line Monday night, May 9, when District 4-4A baseball rivals Farragut High School and Hardin Valley Academy squared off in the district tournament at FHS’s John Heatherly Field.

The winner was guaranteed a spot in the Region 2-4A Tournament while the loser remained fighting to stay alive.

When Farragut went to bat in the bottom of the six up 2-1, a close finish — maybe even extra innings — seemed likely. The Admirals’ four runs promptly dispelled that expectation.

Farragut head coach Matt Buckner’s pride at his squad’s 6-2 win was effusive after the game.

“It gives a shot at the region,” Buckner said. “You win two games and you go to the state tournament now. We gotta get beat twice to not play at home on Wednesday.”

Buckner was referring to the Regional finals Wednesday, May 18.

“Man, we had a lot of guys play really good baseball,” the Admirals skipper added. “We had some kids who really grew up tonight.”

The Hawks’ loss forced a Tuesday, May 10, game against the Bearden-Heritage winner in season-elimination games for all three teams (after deadline). The survivor gets another shot at Farragut in the district title game Wednesday, May 11 (after deadline), and the other spot in the region.

“When two of the best teams in the state match up, that’s what you expect,” HVA head coach Tyler Roach said. “Every time we play them we play great games.”

The game was scoreless after four innings. Farragut went up 2-0 in the fifth when Eli Evans’ single scored Brennon Seigler. Jett Johnston’s double scored Evans.

A potentially game-changing play happened in the Hawks’ half of the sixth. With the bases loaded and HVA down 2-0, Jacob Dillon hit a line shot up the middle. But Admirals shortstop Lukas Buckner caught the ball and doubled up Austin King at second.

Just like that, there were two outs and runners on first and second. Henry Ferguson’s single scored Will Webb. It was 2-1.

But the Admirals put it away in their half of the sixth. Landis Davila’s double scored Jake Merrick, who’d been hit by a pitch, and Buckner, who walked. Evans’ triple scored Davila, then Johnston’s single scored Evans.

Farragut starter Stratton Scott, who gave up one run and six hits in six innings, was replaced by Braylon Hall in the seventh. A threat by HVA was snuffed out when Logan Ozias’ sharp grounder resulted in a game-ending double play.

“I thought early in the game we’d shot ourselves in the foot,” Buckner said. “But we’re a young team and we’re growing before our eyes, and I’m proud of ‘em.”

“Logan hit the ball hard but that’s baseball,” Roach said. “Our backs are against the wall, but I’ll take our team any day. We just gotta come out tomorrow and play our game.”