Lexington Christian Coach Keith Galloway paraphrased Yogi Berra's famous "it ain't over 'til it's over" line after his Eagles outlasted Tates Creek 6-4 in the 43rd District semifinals at Lexington Catholic on Tuesday night.
LCA led 6-1 before the two-time defending district and region champion Commodores rallied in the bottom of the seventh. Tates Creek took advantage of shaky Eagles' relief pitching to make it 6-4, and had the bases loaded with two outs.
Aaron Miley caught a game-ending pop-up, though, and LCA survived to clinch a spot in the 11th Region for the first time since 2010.
"We knew it'd be this way — that's just the way the game of baseball is," Galloway said. "The game's not over till you get that final out."
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No. 17 LCA will play No. 2 Lafayette in Wednesday night's finals. The Generals beat No. 4 Lexington Catholic 4-0 in Tuesday night's second semifinal.
LCA senior left-hander Dima Ballard, who got the win, said getting out of the district for the first time in five years was "surreal.
"For the seniors especially, this is huge. This is the team we've been talking about ... . It's so exciting."
LCA jumped ahead early when Frederick Rupp's single chased home Jaxson Blair and Robbie Stephens in the first inning.
"We wanted to throw the first punch," said Rupp, who went 2-for-2, scored a run and had two sacrifice bunts.
"We've been most successful this year when we've put up some early runs. That's put the pressurpe on the other team and allowed us to play loose and play our game."
Tates Creek's sloppy play cost it in the second. The Commodores made four errors that allowed LCA to push across three runs.
The biggest of the errors came when Hunter Wills popped up with two outs. Tates Creek pitcher Tanner McCoy and first baseman Jordan Fucci collided while trying to make the catch. Rupp and Drew Schact scored on the misplay.
"We were our own worst enemy," Commodores Coach Dom Fucci said. "We had too many errors (six). As they say, it was a great day to have a bad game. We just didn't execute very well."
Ballard, who's headed to Kentucky, threw six strong innings, giving up just two hits while striking out five. He got out of a bases-loaded jam in the second and gave up a run on a wild pitch in the third. He said he was "zoned in" after that.
Ballard wanted to go the distance, but his pitch count (96) swayed Galloway to go to the bullpen.
Sophomore Austin Dick gave up three walks and a single (to Spencer Coop) before giving way to Miley.
Rupp admitted the bottom of the seventh was too close for comfort, "but we have confidence in all our pitchers, even when they struggle."
For Fucci, it was the end of his 20-year coaching career at Tates Creek, his alma mater. He's retiring so he can watch his sons Ryan and Jordan play college ball.
"It's been a great ride," he said.
Lex. Christian 6, Tates Creek 4
Lexington Christian 203 010 0—6 7 0
Tates Creek 001 000 3—4 3 6
Dima Ballard, Austin Dick (7), Aaron Miley (7) and Hunter Wills. Parker Yeary, Tanner McCoy (3) and Max Sweet.
Records: Tates Creek 17-16; LCA 24-10