How strong is the 43rd District in baseball?
Lexington Catholic is ranked No. 2 in the state, but it was 0-3 in district play before rolling host Lafayette 13-3 Tuesday night.
The Knights collected 13 hits and got strong pitching from Tom Banahan to finally break through against the No. 19 Generals.
"No question this is one of the biggest wins of the season for us," Coach Taylor Brooks said. "This is the first step to a new season for us.
"We faced some adversity in the district with some injuries, but these guys kept competing, and didn't worry about what they couldn't control. They've done what they're supposed to do."
Griffin Neuer had a big night at the plate for Lexington Catholic. The junior outfielder went 4-for-5 and drove in four runs.
"I'm just seeing the ball well now," Neuer said. "I've finally got my swing going, and I hope I can stay hot."
The Knights' offense also got a lift from Logan Taylor, who had two hits, including a two-run double, and walked twice. Taylor Henley pounded a solo homer.
Banahan, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound senior righthander, did his job. He shut down Lafayette through four innings while his team built him a 10-0 lead.
"He threw strikes, competed and kept us in the game," Brooks said.
Lafayette blanked Lexington Catholic 6-0 last month behind the complete-game pitching of Josh Dunn.
Dunn, a 6-3, 190-pound senior righty was on the mound in the rematch, too, but the Knights got to him this time around.
In the third inning, Lexington Catholic's Conner O'Neil reached on an error and Evan Fraliex walked. After a wild pitch and two outs, Neuer and Logan Banks delivered back-to-back RBI singles to make it 2-0.
The Knights put three more on the board in the fourth. Daniel Little and Logan Taylor singled, and O'Neil walked to load the bases.
Fraliex's sacrifice fly made it 3-0.
Lafayette dropped an infield fly that would have been the third out, and Lexington Catholic made the Generals pay. Taylor raced home from second on the error, and Neuer followed with another run-scoring hit to push the lead to 5-0.
The Knights doubled their lead in the fifth, with Henley setting the tone with a lead-off smash over the right-field fence off reliever Jack Noftsger.
Lafayette was two outs away from seeing the game end because of the mercy rule in the fifth when the Generals rallied for three runs. Lucas Williams drove in two with a single, and Austin Messner had a sacrifice fly.
But the Knights did end it early by pushing the lead back to 10 in the sixth, with Neuer delivering his fourth consecutive run-scoring single of the game.
Anthony Ethington, who came on in relief of Banahan, struck out the side in the sixth to close it out.
Lafayette, now 4-2 in the district, relinquished the top spot to Tates Creek, which went to 4-1 after beating Lexington Christian Tuesday night.
Lexington Catholic 13, Lafayette 3
Lexington Catholic 002 353—13 13 0
Lafayette 000 030—3 5 3
Tom Banahan, Anthony Ethington (6) and Riley Jackson. Josh Dunn, Jack Noftsger (5), Jalen Stith (5), Tyler Pope (6) and Matt Trimble. HR—Taylor Henley (LC). 2B—Logan Taylor (LC), Daniel Little (LC).
Records: Lexington Catholic 14-5; Lafayette 11-7.
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337 Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com