South Laurel's Austin Vigeant says he's "not a lefty strikeout guy," but that hasn't kept him from being an undefeated pitcher for the state semifinalist Cardinals.
South Laurel is in the final four of the Rawlings/KHSAA State Baseball Tournament after beating No. 24 South Warren 4-1 Thursday afternoon at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
Before this week the Cards had never won a game in the state tournament. But they made history with a 4-1 win over Covington Scott on Monday, and followed it up with another solid performance against South Warren.
Vigeant, a 5-foot-8, 145-pound senior, threw a complete-game five-hitter, with no strikeouts. He walked four and got two key double plays from his defense.
Vigeant, who has only 26 strikeouts in 48 innings this season, improved his record to 6-0 and lowered his earned-run average to 0.29.
"I let 'em hit it on the ground, into the dirt, pop it up or something like that," he said. "I know my (defense) always has my back."
South Laurel Coach Wynn Harris credited Vigeant for following the South Laurel formula for success.
"Our mantra all year has been 'throw strikes and play defense,'" he said. "We weren't flawless — we had three errors today — but we have a resolve to not let it build on us. We have a tendency to make plays to get out of trouble."
South Laurel jumped ahead in the second when Braden Miller and Taylor Morris walked, and Vigeant, batting ninth, chased them home with a two-out, two-run single.
The Cards made it 4-0 thanks to RBI doubles by Zach Allen and Brennan Miller in the third.
South Laurel's defense stymied a South Warren threat in the fourth with an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Cards second baseman Joe Gaines, shortstop Trey Martin and first baseman Allen got another double play in the fifth to limit South Warren to its only run.
"You gotta be playing well and you gotta be a little bit lucky," Harris said. "We're doing a little bit of both right now. I hope we keep it up.
"I'm ecstatic for my guys. I think they're as focused as they've ever been."
South Warren Coach Chris Gage credited South Laurel for being "a very good team," but he thought his Spartans didn't get a fair shake.
"Until the seventh inning, I think we hit the ball a lot better than they did. We were just hitting the ball right at them constantly with guys on base.
"That's why baseball shouldn't be played as one-and-done. But that's the way they do it here. Sometimes it benefits us, other times it doesn't."
Gage, who made four pitching changes in the first three innings, also had a problem with the umpires.
For one thing, he thought the strike zone was too small, especially for Jacob Smiley, who surrendered two walks and two runs in one-third inning in the second.
"Jacob Smiley did a good job. (The catcher) set up dead middle, he threw it right there and the guy calls 'em balls and leads to two runs.
"There was a blown call at first, a blown call at third, blown calls all over the place. The KHSAA needs to figure out how to get this right."
South Laurel 4, South Warren 1
South Laurel 022 000 0—4 7 3
South Warren 000 010 0—1 5 2
Austin Vigeant and Braden Miller. Ty Pitts, Jacob Smiley (2), Pitts (2), Wes King (3), Cam Shyrock (7) and Jacob Lewis. 2B—Trey Kirtley (SW), Zach Allen (SL), Brennan Miller (SL).
Records—South Laurel 29-8, South Warren 28-14.
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.