Prep baseball: Dunbar beats Catholic 5-3 in district opener

mfields@herald-leader.comApril 8, 2014 

Dunbar's Aaron Ochsenbein threw exactly 100 pitches, allowing one run and two hits. "I hit my spots ... I'm very pleased," he said.

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  • Paul Dunbar 5, Lex. Catholic 3

    Paul Dunbar 100 301 0—5 5 1

    Lexington Catholic 000 100 2—3 4 3

    Aaron Ochsenbein, Isaac Taylor (7), Conner McHugh (7) and Wes Walker. Ben Coates, Gatewood Robbins (5), Anthony Ethington (6) and Riley Jackson.

    Records: Dunbar 10-3; Lexington Catholic 8-5.

Paul Laurence Dunbar was one strike away from beating host Lexington Catholic in district baseball Tuesday night when lightning lit up the darkening sky.

Dunbar reliever Conner McHugh had just started his motion when the umpires halted play, with the Bulldogs leading 5-3 with two outs, one runner on and two strikes on Knights' designated hitter C.J. Bush.

Then came wind and rain, and it looked like the game's conclusion might get postponed until the teams met again in a couple weeks.

After a 20-minute delay, there was still a chilly, wind-whipped rain, but no lightning, so the teams took the field again. McHugh needed only two pitches to strike out Bush and secure Dunbar's 5-3 victory, its 10th in 13 games this season.

Bulldogs' outfielder Nicky Avioli, who contributed two hits, two RBI and a run, was glad they were able to finish.

"We could see Conner just starting his leg kick when they stopped it, and that made us so mad," Avioli said.

"This was our first district game of the year and we wanted to get the win behind us. We did, and it was a great team win all around."

Avioli liked Dunbar's chances because it had Aaron Ochsenbein as its starter.

"The last time he stepped on the mound here, it ended up a doughnut for Lexington Catholic," Avioli said, referring to a 1-0 victory last April.

Ochsenbein, a senior right-hander who has signed with EKU, was pretty strong this time, too. He retired the first 11 Knights he faced, and wound up going six innings.

Ochsenbein gave up one run, two hits, struck out three and walked five.

"I think I did really well," he said. "I hit my spots and got ahead in the count. I'm very pleased."

Ochsenbein gave up a pair of walks with two outs in the fourth before Bush broke up his no-hitter with an RBI single.

Ochsenbein might've gotten a little fatigued in his first high pitch count (right at 100) this season, but he battled through it.

The 12th-rated Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead in the first when Aviolo scored on Wes Walker's fielder's choice.

They added three in the fourth, thanks in part to a Lexington Catholic error. McHugh's fielder's choice drove in Garrett Bugg, and Avioli's two-out single chased home Conner Huskey and McHugh to make it 4-0.

Knights' starter Ben Coates, a senior lefty, gave way to relief in the fifth.

McHugh got another RBI in the sixth on a fielder's choice to make it 5-1.

No. 8 Lexington Catholic got two runs in the seventh off Isaac Taylor. Daniel Little and Griffin Neuer got the RBI before McHugh came on to close it out.

Seth Knight, in his first season as Dunbar coach, likes the way his team has looked so far this spring.

"We've gotten good pitching so far, and decent defense. We're working a lot on our offense. The guys get a little mental on us in terms of thinking and analyzing a lot.

"We just want them to go out, compete and have fun. If they do that, they can hit."

Lexington Catholic Coach Taylor Brooks thought his team wasn't aggressive enough at the plate, taking too many fast balls, and they had a few costly mental mistakes on defense.

"When you're playing a district team with a good guy on the mound, you can't do that," he said.

"But we'll be fine. We're talented. The pieces are all there, we've just gotta put them together."

Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.

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