MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Bradley Central finally ran into “the real deal” here Friday and Farragut sent the Bears home just one win shy of their ultimate goal – a second state Class 3A baseball championship.
Instead, it was the Admirals got to celebrate at Reese Smith Jr. Stadium on the Middle Tennessee State University campus.
Farragut pitcher Ryan Hagenow, a junior, checked Bradley on four hits – three in one inning – and cruised to a 7-3 victory and the Admirals captured their 10th overall state title.
“They’re the real deal,” Bradley Central coach Travis after conducting a tearful post-game huddle in the outfield. “They’re pretty dang good. They have many chinks in their armor.”
Farragut didn’t even allow the Bears’ not-so-secret weapon – offense in the sixth inning. Bradley used that in two wins over Riverdale, the last of which sent Adams’ squad into the title showdown.
This time around the Bears (25-15) were down 6-3 and watched set them down 1-2-3.
In fact, Hagenow took several innings away from Bradley, retiring the final 15 he faced. The demoralizing streak started after Caden Sherlin’s two-out single in the third – one inning after the Bears banged out three of their four hits and scored once.
“We thought we might lock in better after that but their guy just got better,” Adams said. “They start with pitching and that was their dude.”
In the 15 consecutive out streak, Hagenow struck out 10.
“Their pitcher was really good,” said first baseman Jake Thompson, who produced the Bears’ only RBI with a groundout in the third. “I was seeing the ball pretty good and kept trying to hit it and do my part for the team.”
The Admirals (42-3) and winners of 36 for their final 37 games jumped on Bradley’s freshman starting pitcher Cooper Casteel.
Ashton King singled and Parker Noland walked. After a fly-out to center, Casteel hit Cooper Mashburn. Hunter Merrick grounded out to first and King scored the game’s first run. Noland, who has signed with Vanderbilt, came home on catcher Riley Black’s passed ball.
Bradley countered with two second-inning runs, both coming on a throwing error by Farragut catcher Ryan McCarthy.
As the back-and-forth scoring continued, the Bears took a 4-3 lead on Thompson’s groundout.
Back came the Admirals. They pushed across a pair of runs resulting from an error by second baseman Freddy Johnson and Hudson Zeiglar’s sacrifice fly.
With Hagenow locking down Bradley’s bats, Farragut extended the lead to 6-3 in the fifth when McCarthy laced a two-run single to right field off reliever Jake Prock.
King delivered an RBI double in the sixth.
“Our school hadn’t gotten this far since 1994 (Bradley claimed its lone state title that year) and it’s because our guys came together. We might have lost this game but in our hearts, we won the season.”
They did that without the one or two stud players.
“There were no Division I players on this team,” Adams said. “They’re scrappy guys that scratched and clawed for everything we got. I’m proud of them. I know it hurts right now but this is something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”
Bradley Central 021 000 0 – 3 4 1
Farragut 202 020 x – 7 9 2
Casteel, Prock (4) and Black; Hagenow and McCarthy.
(Contact Larry Fleming at email@example.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)