FRANKFORT — Zack Barker had an aching back, but the Western Hills senior pitched through the pain and shut down Henry Clay 4-0 in the 11th Region baseball tournament on Monday.
Barker, a left-hander, hurt his back a couple weeks ago, and it flared up again midway through the region opener.
"My velocity probably dropped from 83 or 84 (mph) to about 76," Barker said.
Barker adjusted by focusing on his location. He said his change-up was his most effective pitch.
Western Hills Coach Eric Grubb thought Barker's back pain forced him to concentrate on "getting his release point out in front of him.
"It made him think about keeping the ball down, and he pitched awesome."
The host Wolverines, who've had trouble stringing together hits this season, was clutch at the plate against Henry Clay.
Kyle Stevens ripped a two-out double off Ben Rider in the first. Jesse Howard followed with an RBI single.
Western Hills got two unearned runs in the third. Brendon Cummins led off with a single, was sacrificed to second, and went to third on a wild pitch.
After Rider got a strikeout, Henry Clay would have been out of the inning but an error allowed Cummins to score and Stevens to reach base.
Barker drove in Stevens with a two-out single to make it 3-0.
Western Hills added another run in the fourth when Thomas Bennett walked and Seth Roush doubled him in.
Henry Clay never could mount a threat.
Sam Jiunta led off the Devils' first at-bat with a double, but that was their only hit until Blake Urbanek's bloop single in the seventh.
Barker finished with three strikeouts. He walked one and hit two batters.
"I knew Henry Clay was a good hitting team, and I knew I had to bring my 'A' game to win," he said.
Tates Creek 18, Berea 2: Devin Hairston doubled, tripled, homered and drove in five runs to lead the No. 1 Commodores.
Hairston, a senior shortstop who has signed with Louisville, was lifted after three innings of the blowout and didn't get a chance to hit for the cycle.
Tates Creek jumped on the Pirates early, with four runs in the first, including Hairston's two-run homer and Matt Neal's two-run double.
Hairston's two-run triple highlighted a four-run second. Matt Neal had a solo homer in a five-run fifth.
Tates Creek Coach Dom Fucci made wholesale substitutions after that. It didn't matter as the Commodores got five more in the fourth.
Parker Yeary (4-1) got the win. The junior right-hander gave up two hits in the five-inning game. He had five strikeouts and two walks.
Hairston said taking a swing at the cycle "was on my mind a little bit. But it was more important for Spencer Coop to get the (pinch-hit) at-bat. The game was getting out of hand, and it's important for our younger guys to get some experience."
Hairston has three homers this spring, two coming in his last three playoff games.
"I'm in a different zone now than all season," he said. "This is my last go-around, and I really want a state championship."
Scott County 6, Franklin County 2 (8): Lukas Mudd pitched eight strong innings to lead the No. 16 Cardinals to the extra-inning victory.
Mudd, a senior right-hander, didn't work in the district last week because of a finger blister. So his arm was fresh for Franklin County. He scattered six hits, struck out five and walked two.
"This was a similar performance to last year when he beat Woodford County in the region semifinals," Scott County Coach Scott Willard said. "So he's pitched in big games before."
Mudd said he never doubted he could finish up.
"I never thought I was coming out. I felt great. I'd only thrown about 70 pitches going to the eighth inning."
The Cards won it with four runs in the eighth inning as they batted around.
Luke Lemons, playing with a leg brace after suffering an ACL tear during spring break, had the big hit, a bases-loaded two-run single. Johnson McKenzie added a sacrifice fly, and Franklin County's sixth error of the night allowed another run to score.
The Flyers led early, getting a run in the first on Quenton Brownlee's double and Dawson Willis' single in the first. Scott County tied it in the second. Chase Martin singled and wound up scoring on a Flyers' error.
The Cards edged ahead 2-1 in the fifth when Luke Lemons walked and he also came home on an error. Franklin County tied it in the bottom of the fifth when Alden Gatewood singled and eventually came home on a bases-loaded walk.
Western Hills 4, Henry clay 0
Western Hills 102 100 0—4 9 0
Henry Clay 000 000 0—0 2 1
Zack Barker and Jesse Howard. Ben Rider, Mark Dill (5), Aaron McGeorge (7) and Trevor Hammonds. 2B—Kyle Stevens (WH), Seth Roush (WH), Sam Jiunta (HC).
Records: Western Hills 17-13; Henry Clay 19-19
Tates Creek 18, Berea 2
Berea 000 00— 2 2 6
Tates Creek 445 5x—18 15 1
Gabe Long, Zach McPeek (2) and Jason Strong, Jared Kilgore (3). Parker Yeary and Max Sweet, Sam Lambert (4). 2B—Matt Neal (TC), Devin Hairston (TC), Jordan Fucci (TC), Sweet (TC), Justice Sloan (TC), Jaren Shelby (TC). 3B—Hairston (TC). HR—Hairston (TC), Neal (TC).
Records: Berea 11-14; Tates Creek 31-6-1
Scott Co. 6, Franklin Co. 2
Scott County 010 010 04—6 6 1
Franklin County 100 010 00—2 6 6
Lukas Mudd and Matt Malesick. Quenton Brownlee, Blake Redmon (6), Michael Hurt (8) and Dawson Willis. 2B—Brownlee (FC), Alden Gatewood (FC), Chase Martin (SC).
Records: Scott County 25-9; Franklin County 14-23