By Ken Lay
Carmelo Venero saw an opportunity to redeem himself Wednesday night and he took advantage of his chance.
A senior outfielder for the Farragut High School baseball team, Venero had a rough go of things as he and the Admirals suffered their second loss of the young 2016 season against archrival Bearden Tuesday night. And what a difference a day made.
Venero had two hits and drove in Farragut’s first run in its 5-1 District 4-AAA victory over Maryville at John Heatherly Field.
“It does feel good to bounce back after losing to Bearden,” said Venero, who had two hits, a stolen base run and an RBI to lead the Admirals past the Rebels. “I didn’t do very well last night but tonight, we came out and had fun.
“We played baseball and we did what we do.”
Farragut (7-2 overall, 2-1 in District 4-AAA) fell behind early when Maryville’s Drake Martin hit a solo home run on the second pitch of the game from Admirals’ starter Danny Abel.
Farragut, however, didn’t trail for long.
Maryville sophomore left-handed pitcher Will Orren retired the first two Farragut hitters of the contest. But Maryville (1-5, 0-2) gave up two runs with two out in the bottom of the first inning.
Jake Grooms started the two-out rally when he singled. Cade Burkey walked and Orren loaded the bases when he hit Alec Rheinhart. Venero pulled the Admirals to within 2-1 when he picked up a hit on a swinging bunt to plate Grooms. The Admirals took the lead for good when Chandler Chambers drew a bases-loaded walk, allowing Burkey to score the go-ahead run.
The Rebels had some early chances that went by the boards due to lack of clutch offensive execution according to first-year coach Adam Sullivan.
“The difference in this game was execution,” said Sullivan, who had a long coaching tenure at Catholic High School before taking the Maryville job over the summer. “They executed and we didn’t.
“They had a swinging bunt go their way and we couldn’t get our bunts down. I’m happy with our effort but it [the execution] just wasn’t there tonight. Our kids want it and the good news is that we have until May and this is a tournament sport.”
Sullivan knows a little about late-season hot streaks. He led the Irish to back-to-back appearances in the Class AA State Championship Game in 2014 and 2015. He also led Catholic to Region 2-AAA Tournament in Catholic’s final season in District 4-AAA.
Farragut added a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth and again the Admirals plated its runs with two out in the frame. John Painter drove in a run with a sacrifice fly and Burkey knocked in a run when he was hit by a pitch.
Farragut manufactured another run in the sixth.
Venero singled to lead off the inning. He stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. He came home on a sacrifice fly by Duncan Pence, who pitched a scoreless seven innings for the Admirals.