Sevier County's season ends with second straight 11-0 loss
One of the things that makes the state tournament so special is how hard it is to get there.
A perennial powerhouse like Farragut may sometimes lose sight of the size of the challenge. Upstarts like Sevier County understand, painfully, how difficult it is to reach Murfreesboro.
An 11-0, five-inning loss to the Admirals in Friday's AAA sectional playoff underscored that fact for the Smoky Bears.
“It's really, really hard to get here,” said Sevier County coach Casey Taylor. “It's almost like, if you're able to get through this — with all due respect to the state tournament — it is almost like the state tournament's where you kind of let your guard down and simply play.
“Not that it's not its own equal challenge, but just getting to this point, getting through our district, getting through our regular season with the schedule that we play is difficult.”
Farragut (30-12) moves on to next week's Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association championship with the win whileSevier County's season ends after back-to-back 11-0 losses.
Like Wednesday's defeat against Dobyns-Bennett in the Region 1-AAA final, Friday's loss came down to defensive mistakes and failures at the plate. The Bears (28-14) were no-hit by Farragut's Patrick Raby in a game shortened by the run rule. After Dalton Ford was hit by a pitch in the first, no Sevier County batter reached base with Raby striking out six.
“I think he's a good pitcher,” said Bears pitcher Nick Osborne. “I don't think we had good at-bats against him.”
Osborne was in cruise control early as well. He gave up a single to start the second but otherwise sat the Admirals down with ease in the first two innings. Trouble began in the third when Osborne started the inning by walking John Painter. Osborne later walked Roy Mutta before consecutive errors gave Farragut a 2-0 lead. The Bears turned to Devante Matthews on the mound to try to stop the bleeding and avoid what Taylor called "that one disastrous inning."
Matthews walked the first batter he faced before Nico Mascia hit the first of two three-run doubles for the Admirals to blow the game open. By the time the inning was over, Sevier County had surrendered seven runs, committed two errors and given five free passes.
“(The walks) kill you,” Taylor said. “It's been the hurdle that we have not been able to overcome, giving up freebies. That's been the downside of our arms this year. Our defense has always been something we've been able to hang our hat on and just the scrappy play. But we've struggled being able to come back, especially from large deficits. … At this point during the season that's what those good teams are looking for. They're waiting for your mistakes and then they capitalize on them.”
Another walk in the fourth helped load the bases for John Painter, who made the Bears pay with another bases-clearing double. Down 11-0, Sevier County couldn't get a hit in its final three at-bats, let alone the runs it needed to pose a threat.
It was an uncharacteristic end to a season that saw the Bears reach the sectional round for the second straight year. A team stacked with juniors must now regroup for 2015 when it will try to accomplish what Farragut has been doing for the better part of two decades: reach the state tournament.
“Sometimes around here I feel like we lose focus of the fact it's really hard to make it to the state tournament,” said Admirals coach Matt Buckner. “Even though, I think, we've only not been once in the last 15 years, it's a big accomplishment.”