Categorized | News

Devils fall to MUS after taking 4-2 lead

Germantown senior pitcher Chris Howell fields a bunt and zips the ball to first baseman Kyle Wilks for the out.
Germantown senior pitcher Chris Howell fields a bunt and zips the ball to first baseman Kyle Wilks for the out.

Germantown senior pitcher Chris Howell fields a bunt and zips the ball to first baseman Kyle Wilks for the out.

By Bill Sorrell
Savoring the flavor of a ninth inning victory over Germantown, Memphis University School players ate cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches and chocolate cake on Monday as they celebrated Senior Night.
Taking a bite out of Germantown’s 4-2 lead in the seventh inning, senior outfielder Preston White slammed a two-out single that tied the game.
Senior catcher and pitcher A.J. Hunt then singled to right field in the ninth inning that scored Max Murray and the Owls clinched a 5-4 win.
“It was a little nerve wracking but I just stepped up there and got my look down early and the pitch was just outside and I just took it that way,” said White, one bite into a loaded cheeseburger that was on deck after the game. “Coach (John) Jarnagin always preaches just widening out and letting the hands work and that is what I feel like I did.”
Improving to 16-8, the win was “huge going into regionals, getting a little more momentum” said White.
Hungry for more, the Owls play Christian Brothers at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Briarcrest to establish seeding for the Division 2-AA West regional double-elimination tournament that begins on April 29 at CBHS.
The Purple Wave is ranked No. 1 in the state in Division 2-AA TCBA baseball poll. Region teams do not play each other during the regular season.
Germantown led 4-2 going into the sixth inning. MUS pitcher Mike Frymire struck out three batters in the inning. In the seventh, Murray made a superior diving infield catch that robbed a Germantown hit. However Germantown lead off hitter Jordan Smith then hit a single but the Red Devils (5-18) did not score.
In the bottom of the seventh, Germantown pitcher Ryan Horne walked Connor Wright on a count that had reached 3–2 and then walked Hunt. After a strike out, Horne faced White whose single scored Wright and Hunt.
“That was big,” said Jarnagin. It was the second straight game that White had a hit that led to a victory. “He did the same thing on Saturday against Bolton.”
Germantown pitching coach French Hobbs said that White’s single was “probably the one pitch that did (turn the game).
“That kid had a great at-bat. He waited until he got something he could hit and he hit it hard. He performed,” Hobbs said. “We couldn’t answer back the next inning.”
Hobbs was pleased with his pitchers.
“Everybody that pitched tonight. Drew White did a great job. Andrew Jones did a great job. Landon Horne did a great job and Ryan (Horne) had one pitch where he didn’t want it and they hit it,” said Hobbs.
The one pitch Ryan Horne didn’t want was the final pitch of the game to Hunt, who has signed to play college baseball at Birmingham Southern.
The Owls’ leading hitter with a .450 batting average, Hunt hit the game-winner in the ninth inning. Murray began the inning with a single. Wright followed with a single. The third batter up, Hunt hit the pitch to right field. The single scored Murray who had earlier raced to third base on a passed ball.
“I was just confident and ready to get my pitch to drive the runs in. It was a fast ball away I hit to the right side,” said Hunt, whose favorite player growing up was the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter.
Hunt and designated hitter Evan Smith, a sophomore catcher, each had three hits. The Owls finished with 10 hits.
“I guess I was just seeing the ball real well and I think the team just pulled together at the end and played our best,” said Smith. Jarnagin called the hits by Smith “big.”
A right-handed pitcher, Hunt came in in relief in the eighth inning. He gave up a bunt to Myles Montgomery after walking Landon Horne. A double play before a strike out helped Hunt retire the side. Horne, the team’s leading hitter with a batting average in the .350 to .400 range, was on third base when the eighth ended.
The move from catcher to pitcher didn’t phase Hunt he said.
“I have done it three or four times this year. I haven’t struggled with it at all,” he noted.
In his first season as head coach, Jarnagin, who coached at Victory University for two-and-a-half years before it closed, said that the game was one “that we had to really overcome mistakes that we made.”
“Not that Germantown didn’t play well, they played well. They got some key hits,” he said. “We had some really critical mistakes. We made some base-running mistakes and a couple of errors, one huge error that cost two runs.”
Leading 2-1, Germantown added two more runs in the fourth inning. Germantown batters Ryan Horne and Dillon Patrick were both hit by pitches. Chris Howell walked between the batters. An error led to Horne scoring. Two plays later pinch runner Mitch Wisdom scored giving the Red Devils a 4-1 lead.
“We had to overcome but our guys are resilient and they play hard. I am really proud they scratched a couple of runs across to tie it and then we scratched one to win it,” said Jarnagin. It’s Senior Night. It’s always good to win and it helps us to get ready for the tournament.”
Germantown has its own tournament to get ready for, the District 15-AAA tournament. On the Red Devils’ schedule are games at USA Stadium in Millington at 2 p.m. Saturday against Harpeth and 5 p.m. against Harding Academy.
They play at Bolton at 7 p.m. on Tuesday before hosting the district tournament on April 30 through May 8.
“We are playing for a district tournament that we are going in expecting to win. Our kids are plugging in the pieces and seeing what works,” said Hobbs.
Against MUS, the Red Devils, who got eight hits, “hit the ball great,” said Hobbs. “I don’t think there was anybody who didn’t do their job tonight.”
Germantown staring right-handed pitcher Drew White, a senior, pitched through one third of the fourth inning. He entered the game with an ERA of .84 through 8.5 innings he has pitched this season. It was his first start. He has been experiencing elbow problems.
“I’m excited,” he said before the game. “I am going to go as long as I can.”
After the game, Hobbs said of Drew White, “He has done everything we have asked him to do all year. He is probably the most versatile kid we have on the team. He did everything tonight he could do to get a win. He is a great kid, overall.”
One of four finalists for the John “Bull” Bramlett award that is given by the Memphis chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to a football player, White is president of Germantown’s FCA huddle group. He is also actively involved in Young Life, an evangelical student organization.
Drew White said that Germantown played “a really good game against a good MUS team. I would say one or two hits could have changed the game.”
Landon Horne had a two-run RBI single in the third for Germantown that gave the Red Devils a 2-1 lead.
Hunt started the scoring for MUS in the first inning. He had singled and stole second before Smith singled and then raced home after an error.
In the second inning, Ryan Horne and Patrick singled but the Red Devils could not score. In the third they would.
White began the inning with a single, the fourth Germantown hit of the game. Pinch runner Kyle Wilks ran for White.
Jordan Smith then singled and after moving to second and third, Wilks and Smith scored when Landon Horne singled. The third inning also featured a great defensive stop by MUS short stop Steven Regis who dove to catch a would-be hit by Montgomery. The Red Devils led 2-1 going into the bottom of the third.
Hunt and Jordan Smith, who also had a great defensive play, both singled in the third but couldn’t score. Drew White had a strike out to end the inning.
Third baseman Landon Horne helped defuse a MUS rally in the fifth inning with a top defensive play. Horne would pitch in relief in the bottom of the eighth inning and would strike out three straight Germantown batters.
“They battled hard the whole game,” said Hunt of the Red Devils.
Hunt said that he chose Birmingham Southern because of it competing for a championship at its level every year. “I like their coaches,” he said.
The Owls have been adept at getting on base this season. They have a .485 slugging percentage and are batting .330 as a team.
“We are making the most of all our hits. We have a good solid offensive team,” said Jarnagin, whose team averages a 3.3 ERA.
They have also dealt with injuries. Junior infielder Will Buser, the starting second baseman who was batting fifth and whose average was .400, tore ligaments in his thumb. Freshman outfielder Jaylen Wilbon has also been injured.
Among the 10 seniors being recognized was Colton Neel, a Mr. Football finalist who tore his left labrum in a football game against Briarcrest this past season. He had surgery in January. He has signed a baseball scholarship with the University of Memphis.
MUS seniors recognized were Cole Adams, who started the game as pitcher, David Clarke, Frymire, Hunt, Pierce Jones, Carter McFerrin, Preston White, Wright, Neel, Connor Stewart.
A young team, Germantown has only four seniors: Howell, Patrick, Smith and White.
Said White of the Red Devils, “We are just going to play as a team and keep fighting. We always have a chance to win.”
Hunt said of the Owls, “We need to keep playing together going into the playoffs and try to go far.”