In 2014, Jefferson County baseball put up it's worst record in school history. The freshmen on that team are now seniors and headed to the state tournament for the first time in the program's history.
The Patriots beat Farragut 6-2 in extra innings on Friday night in Class AAA Sectionals.
One of those seniors is Matt Bradley. Despite having a 102-degree fever Friday afternoon, he pitched seven innings of two-run ball to help his team reach state.
"I've been throwing up and running a fever the past two days," Bradley said. "I went to the doctor, they said I have the stomach flu. I've just been laying around the last two days. I felt pretty bad to be honest, but I knew I was going to try (to pitch). If Coach Reese wanted me to, I was going to."
"We put the work in for four years and this is the biggest game we've ever played in. There's just no way I'd want to see someone else out there doing in. I wanted to be the guy that go to do it and luckily Coach Reese gave me that chance."
Bradley held Farragut scoreless through five innings before surrendering a two-run homer to Justen Freeman that tied the game at two.
When the game went to extra innings, Tyler Shaver relieved Bradley. Farragut loaded the bases with one out in the eighth but Shaver escaped the jam with two clutch strikeouts.
Tyler Franklin led off the top of the ninth with a double that short-hopped the wall in left-centerfield. Jacob Rogers quickly followed with a line drive down the third base line that plated Franklin to give Jefferson County the lead.
The Patriots added three insurance runs and Shaver shut down Farragut in the bottom half, ending the game with a curveball for a called strike three.
Shaver and catcher Jonathan Royster tossed their gloves in the air and embraced in front of the mound, with the rest of the Patriots running in to pile on top of them.
"It's a lot of joy," said Jacob Rogers. "We knew we were doing something that's never been done before. It means everything. We're setting the standard for teams to come."
Head coach Zach Reese played at Jefferson County and was an assistant coach with the Pats before taking the helm starting with the 2016 season.
"We've been known for baseball, but it's one of those things, we've never been able to get past this point and we've been here twice before but got beat by Farragut and Bearden," Reese said. "Tonight we cashed it in. It's been a long time coming. It's about these kids and it's something they're going to remember for the rest of their lives."
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