Simon Kenton didn't look like a first-time region champ as it played with poise under pressure in beating Southwestern 2-1 in the first round of the Rawlings/KHSAA State Tournament at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on Monday night.
The Pioneers pulled off a nifty double play to cap the victory.
Southwestern, trailing 2-1 going to the seventh, got a leadoff single from Chris Lynch, who moved to second on a sacrifice.
Wyatt Burton then slapped a line drive that Simon Kenton third baseman Tyler Smith snagged. As Smith dropped to his knees, he threw to second looking to double up Lynch. His throw was high, but Sean Lawrence leapt and gloved it, then dived to tag the bag before Lynch could get back.
"Wow. That was a wild play to end the game," said Simon Kenton pitcher Tristen Marcum. "(Lawrence) got there just in time."
Marcum was a standout on the mound. The senior righthander threw a complete-game five-hitter, with three strikeouts and no walks.
"I just went out played like it was a normal game," he said. "I just threw strikes and let my defense work."
The Pioneers' defense also saved a run in the third. Southwestern cut Simon Kenton's lead to 2-1 when Hunter Cromer scored on Jacob Burchett's two-out triple. Trevor Howard followed with a sinking liner to right, but Travis Bryson made a diving catch to end the inning.
Simon Kenton got its runs in the second. Grant Wassom and Smith singled, and both scored on Colton Downs' one-out single.
That proved to be enough of a cushion for Marcum.
"I knew Tristen would be fine," Pioneers Coach Troy Roberts said. "He doesn't have a power arm, but he gets outs."
Roberts wasn't sure if his team "was loose or just happy to be here.
"Now I know they're loose and focused."
Southwestern Coach Alex Eaton said his team had been clutch at the plate in recent weeks, "but we couldn't get the big hit tonight. That's just baseball. Sometimes you get 'em and sometimes you don't."
South Warren 4, Daviess County 0: South Warren pitcher Cam Shyrock needed help with his cleats after the game. He couldn't get a knot out his shoestrings.
Shyrock didn't have much trouble getting the Daviess County batters out, though. The junior righthander scattered five hits, fanned three and walked one to improve his record to 10-2.
"I thought I pitched all right," he said. "I did give up five hits. I thought I could've done better, but I'm happy with the outcome."
Jacob Smiley and Ty Pitts each worked one inning of relief and preserved the Spartans' fourth shutout in their last 10 games.
Daviess County's Stewart Currie kept South Warren scoreless for three innings before the Spartans broke through for three runs in the fourth. Designated hitter Trey Kirtley had a two-run single, and Grant Noble knocked in the other run.
South Warren added a run in the sixth on freshman Ryder Litten's RBI single that drove in Austin McElwain.
Currie, a 6-foot-7 sophomore, went the six innings for Daviess County. He gave up seven hits, struck out two and hit four batters.
"We met with our hitters after the second inning and caught on to what he was doing," South Warren Coach Chris Gage said, noting that Currie's curveball made his fastball look even faster.
"We took that out of the equation and our hitters were fastball-ready."
Kirtly, a sophomore starting only his fifth game, had the key hit with the bases loaded.
Gage thinks having two seniors, four juniors, three sophomores and a freshman in his lineup is ideal.
"I love having a mix of young guys and old guys," he said. "I think they feed off each other really well. Young guys bring that energy."
South Laurel 4, Scott 1: The Cardinals were overdue to have some fun in Whitaker Bank Ballpark. In their last three state tournament appearances, they lost in the first round to Ashland Blazer in 2012, Bullitt East in '09 and Lexington Catholic in '06.
So breaking through to the quarterfinals this time was sweet.
"That's a relief right there," Coach Wynn Harris said. "South Laurel history was made today with our first-ever win in the state tournament.
"I'm so excited for my kids. They played their hearts out against a really good team that fought us to the end."
South Laurel had the better pitching this time around. Braden Miller, a sophomore righthander, tossed a complete-game five-hitter. He struck out three and walked one.
"He's a flood-the-zone, induce-contact guy," Harris said. "And he made some great pitches."
The Cards' defense backed him up with a couple of inning-ending double plays.
South Laurel broke a scoreless tie with a two-out, three-run rally in the third.
After Joe Gaines singled and Trey Martin walked, Daniel Neal drove in Gaines with a single. Martin dashed home on a double steal to make it 2-0. Zach Allen followed with a single to drive in Neal.
Scott got a run in the fifth on Nick Thurza's pinch-hit single that brought in Jake Ohmer. The Eagles had runners at second and third with two outs, but Miller got an inning-ending foul pop-up.
The Cards got an insurance run in the sixth thanks to Brennan Miller's two-out single that drove in pinch-runner Tucker Martin.
Simon Kenton 2, Southwestern 1
Southwestern 001 000 0—1 5 2
Simon Kenton 020 000 x—2 7 1
Vincent Boils, Wyatt Burton (6) and Chris Lynch. Tristen Marcum and Michael Mundy. 3B—Trevor Howard (SW), Jacob Burchett (SW).
Records: Southwestern 27-13; Simon Kenton 23-16
South Warren 4, Daviess Co. 0
Daviess County 000 000 0—0 6 2
South Warren 000 310 x—4 7 0
Stewart Currie and Noah Pike. Cam Shyrock, Jacob Smiley (6), Ty Pitts (7) and Jacob Lewis. WP—Shyrock. LP—Currie.
Records: Daviess Co. 19-15; South Warren 28-13
South Laurel 4, Scott 1
Scott 000 010 0—1 5 0
South Laurel 003 001 x—4 8 2
Nick Brickman, Andrew Trame (4) and Blake Gay. Braden Miller and Taylor Morris. 2B—Miller, 2 (SL).
Records: Scott 25-15; South Laurel 28-8