The baseball season should have been over for Luke Lemons when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee during spring break in early April.
But the Scott County senior, who wasn't planning on playing college baseball, decided not to have surgery. Instead, he strapped on a knee brace and kept playing as the Cardinals' designated hitter.
Lemons showed Monday night that he made the right decision as he contributed a couple of big hits in Scott County's come-from-behind 6-5 extra-inning victory over Bryan Station the 42nd District semifinals at Henry Clay.
Scott County will play Henry Clay in Tuesday night's finals. The Blue Devils beat Sayre 9-2 in their semifinal.
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Lemons had two hits and three RBI. His two-run single capped a three-run rally in the seventh that tied it 5-5.
"You've got to be really happy for a kid like Luke," Scott County Coach Scott Willard said. "He's playing with a torn ACL because he wants to play. He's batting about .400, and he's come up with some clutch hits for us."
Lemons and No. 16 Scott County showed lots of resiliency against Bryan Station.
The Defenders, looking to qualify for the 11th Region tournament for the sixth year in a row, used their fleet feet to force Scott County into fielding miscues.
"It's hard to play against that kind of speed," Willard said. "I equate it with playing against a full-court press in basketball. Guys get nervous and start throwing the ball around."
Devon Key's two-run single gave Bryan Station a 2-0 lead in the third.
Scott County rallied to tie it with runs in the fourth and fifth. Bo Saunders and Lemons had hits in the fourth. Two walks and a Bryan Station error allowed the Cards to tie it in the fifth.
Bryan Station retook the lead at 5-2, capped by Marcus Johnson's two-run single in the top of the seventh.
But the Defenders couldn't hold on in the bottom of the inning.
Saunders led off with a double for Scott County. Tanner Blankenship reached on an error, and Chase Martin drew a walk to load the bases. After Malik Wilson's sacrifice fly made it 5-3, Lemons delivered his game-tying single.
"I knew I could get a hit," he said. "I felt it coming."
After, Chase Martin, in relief of starter Matt Gregory, retired Bryan Station 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth, the Cards won it in their at-bat.
Freshman Cam Hill led off with a double. After Hill moved to third on a ground-out, Bryan Station intentionally walked Blankenship and Martin to load the bases.
Wilson then drew a walk to force in the winning run.
Bryan Station Coach Eddie Brooks praised Scott County "for gathering themselves like a great team does. They figured out how to tie it in the seventh and win it in the eight."
Brooks lauded his young's team's improvement over the course of the year.
"We started out 2-11, but our growth from the beginning of the season to now gave us a chance to win this game," he said.
Henry Clay 9, Sayre 2: The Blue Devils got three runs in the first inning, and that was enough of a cushion for starter Lucas Simpson as he blanked Sayre on two hits in his six innings of work.
Henry Clay's offense got contributions from its entire batting order as it collected 10 hits.
Blake Urbanek and had a pair of doubles and an RBI. Ben Rider ripped a triple and a run-scoring double.
Ben Elsen had two hits, including a two-run single.
Sam Jiunta, Aaron McGeorge, Justin Warren and Wyatt Terrell each scored twice.
Henry Clay's defense did its part. Sayre's Mason Stockham and Christian Courtney singled to start the fourth, and moved up a base on an error. But the Devils snuffed out the Spartans' hopes for a rally when Warren got a force out at first and gunned down Stockham at the plate for a double play.
Scott Co. 6, Bryan Station 5 (8)
Bryan Station 002 001 20—5 5 2
Scott County 000 110 31—6 5 3
Landon Lynch, Michael Hall (5), Ryan Springer (7), Josh Owsley (7) and Jakob Hamilton. Matt Gregory, Chase Martin (7) and Matt Malesick. 2B—Malesick (SC), Bo Saunders (SC), Cam Hill (SC).
Records: Bryan Station 13-21; Scott Co. 24-8.
Henry Clay 9, Sayre 2
Sayre 000 000 2—2 4 1
Henry Clay 302 040 x—9 10 3
Michael Flora, Mason Stockham (5) and John Van Balen. Lucas Simpson, Trey Prewitt (7), Alec Bush (7) and Trevor Hammonds. 2B—Aaron McGeorge (HC), Blake Urbanek, 2 (HC), Ben Rider (HC). 3B—Rider (HC).
Records: Henry Clay 18-18; Sayre 21-9.