William Blount baseball coach Justin Young said he doesn’t much care for moral victories.
However, a one-run loss in extra innings to a team like Farragut is a pretty respectable setback.
“It should give us a lot (of confidence),” Young said. “We still lost, so we need to be upset about that, but we need to build off of the effort and know that we can play with anybody.”
Farragut overcame a three-run deficit — as well as eight errors — en route to a 5-4 victory in nine innings Monday night in a District 4-AAA matchup at William Blount. The Admirals (9-0, 3-0) are the defending state champions — there was no state tournament in 2020 because of the pandemic — and they have won nine state titles since 2003.
Rohde Kirkland and Justin Bell did their jobs on the mound for William Blount (4-4, 2-3). The pitching duo struck out 12 batters, with Kirkland accounting for nine of those in 5.2 innings.
“In a tough atmosphere against a tough team, they gave us a chance, and that’s all you can ask of your pitchers,” Young said. “They battled and they did a good job.”
Hudson Seigler put Farragut on the board, 1-0, with an RBI single in the top of the first. The Admirals looked poised to get back to work in the second inning when Lukas Buckner led off with a single. But Kirkland struck out the next batter before catching Buckner stealing second for two outs. He then struck out the final batter to keep the Admirals from cushioning their lead.
William Blount didn’t record its first hit until the bottom of the fifth, during which the Governors scored all four of their runs with two outs. Avery Crabtree got things going with a single before Job Matossian reached on an error, and Colby Abbott scored Crabtree with a line drive to left field to tie the score at 1.
It was at that point the Admirals fell apart, as the Governors capitalized on errors with three more runs for a 4-1 lead. Matossian scored on an error by the catcher that allowed Abbott to advance to third, and Kirkland drove him home with a line drive to center field. Will Vance then reached on an error, and Kirkland eventually scored on the sequence of errant throws.
“Two-out rallies are big,” Young said. “They did a good job of stringing things together, and Farragut helped us in that inning by kicking it around a little bit. … We put the ball in play. Even with some of the best teams in the state — if you make them make plays, they’re going to make mistakes, so we took advantage of that.”
Farragut responded in the next inning with three runs that tied the score at 4. The Admirals led off the top of the sixth with a pair of singles by Tanner Kim and Angus Pence before Seigler grounded out to first while scoring Kim. Eli Evans cut William Blount’s lead to 4-3 with an RBI single.
Brennon Seigler rounded out the scoring that inning when he blasted a two-out RBI triple to center field that was just too deep for Matossian, as the ball dropped off his glove to allow the Admirals to pull even.
“It was the heart of their order, and we knew that was going to be the tough inning there in the sixth,” Young said. “They got a couple hits — a couple balls just out of our reach. … They’re not one of the top teams in the state for no reason.”
After two scoreless innings, Kim scored the go-ahead run for Farragut with an RBI single for which the Govs had no answer in the bottom of the ninth.
“My message to them was, ‘We didn’t play a perfect game, we had a lot of mistakes as well, and we got beat by one run in nine innings,” Young said. “Every time we take the field, we have to expect to win, but I was proud of them. … It was a good measuring point for us to see how good we are, and how good we hope to get by the end of the season.”