By Mark Humphrey
HARRISON -- Farmington's Cinderella season finally came to an end with an 8-1 loss to Watson's Chapel Thursday at the State 5A baseball tournament held at Harrison.
The Cardinals exceeded all expectations finishing third in the 5A West Conference tournament and making an appearance at state. Farmington finished 15-10 overall with a 7-6 league mark that included games against 6A teams in a blended district for regular season play.
"That's a credit to our guys, who stepped in and worked their butts off," said Farmington coach Jay Harper, who could be considered a bonafide candidate for coach-of-the-year after graduating 10 seniors, including seven starters and four of his top pitchers from a year ago.
"We made it to state three of our four years in 5A," Harper said. "That's a credit to our players, our parents, and our coaching staff. I know it sounds like I'm blowing my own horn, but it's a team effort."
Farmington led 1-0 early, after Drew Sturgeon led off the opening at-bat of the game with a walk. He moved to second on Will Danhauer's sacrifice bunt and scored on senior Hayden VanLaningham's RBI single into right center.
"When we took a 1-0 lead in the first inning we were confident," Harper said. "(Starting pitcher) Derek Perona's done a great job all year. We wanted to try to keep it as close as we could and maybe catch a break. We kept it close through five innings."
Perona was good out of the gate. Despite surrendering a leadoff single to Wildcat leadoff batter Gianti Turner, who went 3-for-4 and scored twice, Perona retired the next six batters he faced fanning two. In the bottom of the third Jayln Williams walked and scored on Kevin Compton's infield single that bounced twice before the Cardinals could get a handle on it.
The early run was all the scoring the Cardinals could muster.
Watson's Chapel Markevian Hence went the distance, allowing only 2 hits while striking out 11 batters to earn the win. The sophomore was throwing at a velocity the Cardinals weren' accustomed to.
"When you have a pitcher throwing it 86-90 m.p.h. it's hard to adjust to that when you haven't seen it all year," Harper said.
Watson's Chapel added 2 runs in the fifth to increase its lead to 4-1, then capitalized on Farmington errors in the sixth to double the lead to 8-1. Perona induced a fly-out to begin the sixth, but the next batter Williams got aboard when a bunt wasn't fielded. Turner made contact and the ball struck Perona on the mound, who limped off after throwing 108 pitches.
After the game Harper said he thought Perona was OK.
"He's got a little strained knee," Harper said. "That kid's a battler. I can't say enough good things about him. He exceeded my expectations. He's a courageous young man."
Ben Silvis came on in relief with one out and runners at the corners. Silvis induced a ground-out to shortstop by Kevin Compton, but a run scored. Magnolia senior center fielder Ja'Kobi Jackson hit an infield single that landed near second base driving in another run and the Wildcats were in front, 6-1. Andrew Morgan's 2-run homer all but nailed the door shut before Silvis struck out Gabe Starks to get out of the inning.
Hence struck out two Cardinals, sandwiched around a fly-out into deep right center by Evan Shoffit, to retire Farmington in order in the seventh.Sports on 05/16/2018
Print Headline: Farmington's Cinderella Baseball Season Ends At Dance