FARMINGTON -- Six Cardinals were voted to the 5A West All-Conference baseball team for Farmington's last season as a member of the league in which they qualified for state.
Named to the All-District team were: senior Hayden VanLaningham, freshman Tate Sutton, sophomore Drew Sturgeon, junior Eric Hill, senior Logan Bobak, and senior Derek Perona. Achieving All-State status was Perona, who excelled on the mound.
The season turned out as a pleasant surprise for coach Jay Harper. Coming into the last weekend of the regular season, Farmington played host to Harrison with the No. 1 seed in the Class 5A-West Conference tournament at stake. The Cardinals didn't win that game, but Farmington finished 15-10 overall with a 7-6 conference mark. The Cardinals placed third in the 5A West Conference tournament advancing to state where they ran into eventual State 5A Runner-Up, Watson's Chapel, and lost 8-1.
"I can't express how proud I am of these guys," Harper said, admitting he wasn't expecting a lot after losing 10 seniors to graduation.
According to Harper, graduation took away 92 percent of the Cardinals' offensive production and three of the top five pitchers. The solution was playing a bunch of "first-year seniors," a couple juniors, several sophomores and one very good freshman. Harper convinced the kids to take on new roles and do some things that surpassed his expectations.
"It's been great to see guys step up," Harper said.
During his senior season, Perona started 11 games, compiling a 7-2 record, winning 78 percent of the decisions in which he was involved. In his 11 appearances, Perona threw 906 pitches, the most of anyone on the Cardinal staff. Classmate Ben Silvis was second hurling 523 pitches.
Perona appeared in 24 games delivering 17 hits in 60 at-bats with 72 plate appearances producing 3 doubles, 8 RBIs and 11 runs scored although he was frequently subbed out for a courtesy runner. Perona was hit by a pitch 3 times, reached on an error 3 times and hit into a fielder's choice twice while drawing 8 walks and striking out 12 times. His batting average checked in at .283 accompanied by a .394 on-base percentage and a .333 slugging percentage.
VanLaningham stepped up in his senior season after not playing much previously. He was second on the team in average and leading the Cardinals in RBIs coming into the postseason. VanLaningham held onto the RBI lead (24) by 2 runs over teammate Hill (22) with Bobak close behind at 20 and Sutton finishing with 19. The lineup presented multiple threats.
"He's one who hasn't played much until this year, but I couldn't be more proud of him," Harper said. "He's waited his time, worked hard and produced for us."
VanLaningham played in all 25 games Farmington played making 88 plate appearances with 28 hits in 77 at-bats with a pair of doubles and a pair of triples, 24 RBIs, 14 runs scored. VanLaningham earned 9 walks against 15 strike-outs with a .364 batting average, .432 on-base percentage and .442 slugging percentage.
Sutton stepped into a starting role as a freshman as a second baseman. Sutton was a threat offensively, hitting around .360 coming into the final week of the season. With a solid performance in postseason including three games in the 5A West Conference tournament helping Farmington take third place, Sutton upped his season average to .400 marking the second straight year Farmington had a player bat .400. Tyler Gregg (41-of-98, 12 doubles, 2 triples, 11 home runs, 41 RBIs, .418) and Ryan Larkin (40-of-100, 9 doubles, 1 home run, 20 RBIs, .400) both achieved the feat in 2017.
Farmington's 2018 achievements is even more impressive looking back at the combined production of those two hitters, who both graduated in 2017.
Sutton's bat produced 24 hits in 60 at-bats from 91 plate appearances. Through 25 games, he belted 3 doubles and led the team with 4 triples with 19 RBIs and 22 runs scored. Sutton's on-base percentage ranked No. 1 on the roster at .600 with a .583 slugging percentage. Sutton recorded 47 outs, including 2 double plays, second on the team in both categories, and fielded at an .857 percentage rate.
Sturgeon became the Cardinal leadoff hitter making 101 plate appearances at the top-of-the-order as a sophomore. In 25 games played, Sturgeon went 31-of-82 producing a .378 batting average with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 15 RBIs, and 30 runs scored. His on-base percentage with .485 was aided by getting hit by a pitch 4 times and reaching on an error 4 times. He hit into a fielder's choice 4 times and took 13 free passes on walks with 8 strike-outs. Sturgeon accumulated a slugging percentage of .463.
Sturgeon helped fuel the Cardinal offense, leading the team with 22 stolen bases. He was only caught once and batted .357 with runners in scoring position.
Hill was the regular season leader for batting average. He wound up third (.375) after the Cardinals completed postseason play barely edged out for No. 2 by Sturgeon (.378) with VanLaningham also in the hunt at .364. As a team the Cardinals hit .318.
Hill appeared in 25 games making 98 plate appearances with 33 hits in 88 at-bats, 6 doubles, 22 RBIs, 20 runs scored. He was hit by a pitch 4 times and reached on an error 7 times. He hit into a fielder's choice 6 times, took 3 bases-on-balls and struck out 8 times, posting a .375 batting average with an on-base percentage of .421 and a slugging percentage of .443.
Bobak appeared in 23 games belting out 24 hits in 79 at-bats with 88 plate appearances, 6 doubles, 3 triples, 20 RBIs, and 22 runs scored. Bobak walked 6 times and struck out 10 times. He batted .304 with an on-base percentage of .364 and a .456 slugging percentage.
Bobak contributed his share of timely hits and was second on the roster in stolen bases with 14. He was only caught stealing once. Defensively Bobak topped the Cardinals with 53 put-outs. His fielding percentage was .826. Bobak turned 3 double plays to lead the Cardinals.Sports on 07/11/2018
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