Admirals get shot at fifth-straight title
By Adam Greene
KINGSPORT — Farragut High School’s baseball team isn’t done yet.
The Admirals shrugged off a nearly two-hour lightning delay Friday night to hold on to a 2-1 victory over Dobyns-Bennett in the Class AAA state sectional.
“We did just enough,” Farragut coach Matt Buckner said. “We’re down to a few pitchers and it’s taken everything we’ve got to stay in ball games. Their pitcher (Aaron Quillen) was spinning us to death. We were lucky to win.”
The Admirals (34-7) will get a chance to defend their state title, their last four state titles actually, at the state baseball tournament in Murfreesboro beginning Tuesday.
Farragut needed a masterful pitching performance to get that chance at a fifth-straight title, and they got two of them.
Starting pitcher Kyle Serrano (4-0) gave up just two hits over the first five innings. The junior right-hander has been called into service as the team’s top starter after injuries decimated the staff this season.
Serrano was one of those injuries and has only recently recovered from a broken rib on his right side.
“Kyle’s been out the entire year,” Buckner said. “Our No. 1 and No. 2 guys are out and Serrano comes in and it’s been amazing. It was tough out there (Friday), coming back from an hour-and-45-minute rain delay.”
Serrano didn’t try to do too much in his seven-inning duel with Quillen. Though he walked six batters, Serrano gave up just one run in the bottom of the first on a balk, allowing Indians shortstop Elijah Sutherland to cross home plate.
“I wasn’t helping myself out at all, but I pitched good when it counted,” Serrano said. “I just tried to stay focused on the game and stay as loose as possible. It was hard to get back into a rhythm (after the delay). You try to take
the pressure out of it and have fun with it.”
Second baseman Nick Senzel saved a run in the fifth, charging a ground ball and firing it to first at a full sprint.
“He (Senzel) is a big-time player,” Buckner said. “He’s probably an SEC player. I’ve seen him make that play over and over.
“He’s got great ability.”
Serrano, son of Tennessee baseball coach Dave Serrano, handed the game over to A.J. Simcox in the sixth and the senior closer slammed the door.
Simcox has given up only two hits and no runs as a closer all season and D-B’s batters didn’t change that. Simcox retired six straight to end the game.
Both of Farragut’s runs came in the first.
Lead-off hitter Jammer Strickland was hit by a pitch. Simcox reached on a single and Chase Chambers drew a walk to load the bases.
Third baseman David Logan didn’t waste the opportunity, driving in two runs with a hit.
Adam Greene is a freelance contributor.