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Larkins homer lifts Crockett over East

Johnny Wilson • Apr 30, 2018 at 10:19 PM

BLUFF CITY — On a sun-splashed afternoon set aside to honor the Sullivan East baseball seniors, it was a David Crockett 12th grader who had the final say Monday.

Crockett senior Luke Larkins provided the game-winner, rocketing a 3-1 fastball over the right-field fence in the top of the seventh inning to lift the Pioneers to a 9-8 non-conference victory over East.

"He's a big, strong boy and if he gets hold of it he can sure drive it out," said Crockett head coach Nick Lingerfelt. "That's the second time he's done that for us this year, the other being a three-run shot against Volunteer."

The one-out blast broke an 8-8 tie and was the only hit allowed by East right-handed reliever Tanner Leffew, who all but shut down Crockett for 5 2/3 innings.

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Larkins wasn't sure he got enough of it, but the loud clang off the McKamey Field scoreboard told the left-handed slugger all he needed to know.

"When I hit it, honestly, I thought, 'That's probably an out,' " Larkins said. "I just hoped for the best, but when I saw it disappear over the fence I was overjoyed.

"It was a great feeling, but I wouldn't even have been in that position if our guys hadn't been hitting and knocking in runs the first two innings when I wasn't, and if Nolan Miller hadn’t pitched the really good game that he did."

WILD START

Miller did pitch well in his 5 1/3 innings of relief, but not before Crockett and East both scored seven runs over the first two innings.

Devin Foster had two singles and three RBIs and Will Long socked a bases-loaded triple to help give Crockett a short-lived 7-2 edge through its first two at-bats.

East starter starter Drew Hatcher allowed five hits and five walks in 1 1/3 innings.

"Too many walks early,'' East coach Mike Breuninger said. "Lots of walks early.

"But it was a good game to play with the (conference) tournaments coming up next week. These are the kind of games we'll see."

Miller entered the game after East's Perry Casaday capped a five-run Patriots second with a three-run homer that made it a 7-7 game.

A right-hander, Miller allowed three hits, struck out four and walked just one.

'My little sophomore did a nice job out there for us," Lingerfelt said.

IMPROVED PIONEERS

The two teams play a return game today at Crockett, and Lingerfelt hopes his club can carry some momentum into the Big Seven Conference tourney.

The Pioneers, who dropped its season opener by a 24-2 count to tough Tennessee High, currently sport an 8-21 record.

"This is the 14th one-run game these kids have played in this year,'' said Lingerfelt, in his first year at the Crockett helm. "This was our fourth win among those games, so hopefully we're figuring out how to win these close games."

East, which got two RBIs from Brantley Ellis and two-hit games from Elias Arnold and Dylan White, dropped to 16-10 with the defeat.

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