LexCath, Tates Creek advance to 43rd District finals

mfields@herald-leader.comMay 20, 2014 


    Finals: Lexington Catholic vs. Tates Creek

    When: 6 p.m.

    Where: Lafayette High School

Lexington Catholic baseball coach Taylor Brooks couldn't find much to nitpick after the No. 10 Knights beat Lexington Christian Academy 8-3 in the 43rd District semifinals Tuesday night at Lafayette.

"We played very good defensive baseball. Our pitchers threw strikes. We executed well and hit the ball well.

"It was an all-around good day."

Lexington Catholic advances to Wednesday night's district finals against No. 1 Tates Creek. The Commodores beat No. 14 Paul Laurence Dunbar 4-2 in their late semifinal Tuesday night.

The district winner and runner-up both get a spot in the 11th Region tournament at Western Hills next week.

The only thing Brooks could find fault with was winning pitcher Willie Poe's haircut. Brooks kidded his senior left-hander, who got a mohawk on Monday heading into the postseason.

But Poe can sport any kind of 'do he wants if he pitches like he did against LCA. He improved his record to 6-1 by working five strong innings. He struck out seven and walked three.

"He's thrown well for us all year," Brooks said. "He did exactly what he was supposed to do. He kept us in the game. We expect it out of him."

When Poe tired in the sixth, LCA loaded the bases with no outs. Griffin Neuer came on in relief and got a double-play ball that limited the damage to one run.

"An inning-killer," Brooks said of the 6-4-3 double play.

Lexington Catholic had plenty of offense to go with its solid pitching.

After LCA took a 1-0 lead in the second on Jax Blair's double and Frederick Rupp's two-out single, the Knights answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning.

After Neuer led off with a double, LCA starter Cody Kalinowski retired the next two batters on groundouts.

But Lexington Catholic didn't let him off the hook. Taylor Henley singled in Neurer, and after Ben Wilhite and Andy Thompson drew walks to load the bases, Chris Thompson cleared them with a double to make it 4-1.

"Just trying to put it in play and score anybody I could," Thompson said, "because runs are pretty crucial in district games."

Poe was happy to get the offensive backing.

"It's always good to get a little help," he said. "It takes a little pressure off. It makes it easier to throw strikes when everyone's clicking and playing well."

The Knights added another run in the fifth and three more in the sixth to give them a cushion going to the seventh.

"It's always nice to have a couple insurance runs in the toughest district in the state," Brooks said.

Whether Brooks likes it or not, he may see more bad haircuts in the coming days.

Thompson, a sophomore second baseman whose twin brother plays in the outfield for Lexington Catholic, said he's "gotta get a mohawk now" that Poe has one.

"I'm gonna get it cut like Willie's," he said.

And what if his coach objects?

"The seniors, man, will make you do it," Thompson said with a smile.

Tates Creek 4, Dunbar 2: The top-rated Commodores will get a shot at defending their district title after holding off Dunbar.

Devin Hairston got Tates Creek off to a flying start. After Luke Rouse led off with a single, Hairston belted a one-out, two-run homer to left. Dunbar outfielder Nick Avioli appeared to have a bead on the ball, but it sailed over the fence.

Tates Creek added a run in the third when Jaren Shelby walked and Max Sweet chased him home with a triple to the right-center gap.

The Commodores made it 4-0 in the fourth when Hairston's sacrifice fly drove in Curtis Bethel, who drew one of nine walks issued by Dunbar pitchers.

That was just enough support for Tates Creek ace Tanner Hart. The senior righthander shut out Dunbar on one hit through six innings before getting in trouble in the seventh.

Conner Huskey was hit by a pitch, Jacob Crouch singled with one out, and Jack Cress doubled to the gap to drive in both runners and make it 4-2. Hart slammed the door after that, though. He got a groundout and strikeout to run his record to 9-0.

Lex. Catholic 8, Lex. Christian 3

Lexington Christian 011 001 0—3 7 2

Lexington Catholic 041 013 x—8 10 0

Cody Kalinowski, Drew Schacht (3),Lincoln Henzman (4) and Isaac Shewmaker. Willie Poe and Riley Jackson. 2B—Jax Blair (LCA), Chris Thompson (LexCath), Griffin Neuer (LexCath), C.J. Bush (LexCath) 3B—Jackson (LexCath). HR—Andrew Barker (LCA).

Records: LCA 20-15; Lexington Catholic 23-11.

Tates Creek 4, Paul Dunbar 2

Paul Dunbar 000 000 2—2 3 0

Tates Creek 201 100 x—4 4 0

Aaron Ochsenbein, Zac Conner (4) and Wes Walker. Tanner Hart and Max Sweet. 2B--Jack Cress (PD). 3B—Sweet (TC). HR—Devin Hairston (TC).

Records: Tates Creek 29-6-1; Dunbar 19-14.

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

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