April hasn’t ended yet, but the 42nd District baseball standings are almost complete with nearly a month left in the regular season.
Scott County swept Bryan Station, Henry Clay and Sayre to go 6-0 in district play for the first time since it moved to the 11th Region in 2006. Coincidentally, this is the first year the 42nd District scheduled district games as back-to-back doubleheaders against the same team — for example, Bryan Station plays at Henry Clay on a Tuesday, then the Blue Devils come to Bryan Station the next day.
The district coaches got together heading into this season and decided that type of schedule — used by several districts in the state but by no means widely-adopted (the 43rd District doesn’t do it) — leads to a more definitive seeding of teams based on their performance. Before, a team could have pitched their ace against the presumed top team each time they played in the regular season. In this format, that could only occur one time.
“Now it takes two, three or four pitchers to win both games instead of just the one,” Bryan Station Coach Eddie Brooks said. “I love the concept of it this year. ... To me it did exactly what I thought it would do.”
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Completing the sweep
Scott County locked up the No. 1 seed last week after rallying from behind twice against Henry Clay.
In Georgetown, the Cards scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to overcome a two-run lead and finish with a 4-2 win on Tuesday. The next night Henry Clay again held a two-run lead entering the fifth inning. Down 5-3, Scott County scored six runs in the frame and eventually left Lexington with a 14-6 victory.
Trey Ogle, a Scott County senior who finished with three RBI in the two-game series, said this year’s team is performing well by stringing hits together rather than the power hitting displayed by last year’s club.
Sayre upended the Cardinals in the first round of last year’s district tournament. Scott County lost eight of its last 11 games in 2015.
“Last year we started out hot and then as the season went on we thought we could just show up and win,” Ogle said. “That wasn’t the case. This year we’ve just tried to stay humble and play every game our hardest.”
Henry Clay (10-8) put a four-run inning together to take a lead in the second game before Scott County answered with its own strong frame.
That was the second time this season the Blue Devils lost by a margin of more than four. Five of their defeats have been by three runs or fewer.
“We’re a team that’s 10-8 that could be 14-4 pretty easy,” Henry Clay Coach Jordan Tarrence said. “But, it’s usually been one bad inning. ... Five of our eight losses have been, if we take away one inning we win the game.”
Tarrence’s team realized it could have been 13-3 heading into the series with Scott County if it had been just a bit more focused. At that point he told the Blue Devils his staff was going to coach them as if they weren’t 10-6.
“Against a team like (Scott County), if you make one or two mistakes, then all of a sudden they’ve put up 14 runs against you,” Tarrence said. “A walk here, an error here, then all of a sudden their three hits are way more hurtful than if all they get are three hits.”
Sayre has a say
The winner between Henry Clay and Sayre on Wednesday night will be the district’s No. 2 seed come tournament time. Both teams would be tied with a 3-3 record if Sayre wins, but the Spartans’ number of runs allowed against district opponents — the tiebreaker — is 20 to Henry Clay’s 28.
Regardless of who wins Wednesday, those teams will be paired once the postseason begins. Being able to bat last could be critical, though, Sayre Coach Kevin Clary said.
The Spartans are 15-7 in their second season under Clary. They reached the 11th Region tournament for the first time since 1997 last season and hope to make a repeat trip.
Because of last year’s success, Sayre isn’t “sneaking up on anybody,” Clary said. “We’re seeing a lot of team’s No. 1 pitchers, which will only benefit us down the road.” He frequently reminds his guys that last year doesn’t matter when it comes to building a legacy for this season.
Sayre will travel to Somerset on Tuesday night for an All “A” sectional. That winner advances to the All “A” State Tournament, which begins May 7 at Whitaker Bank Park. Winning the All “A” is a big goal, but the Spartans want to make noise elsewhere, too.
“Just because we’re a small school, we don’t use that as an excuse,” Clary said.
Defenders down but not out
A second straight 0-6 finish in district play was not what Brooks had in mind for Bryan Station, which has a 3-17 record.
Before the season, Station lost one of its top athletes, Devon Key, who decided not to play baseball this season. It was a decision Brooks understood since Key has signed a football scholarship with Western Kentucky.
The Defenders have also been ransacked by injuries.
Brooks is hopeful that “we can turn this bus around,” though. Station lost by a combined score of 22-4 when it played Scott County this season. It has 14 games left until a do-or-die meeting with the Cardinals.
“They have everything in the tool shed that you need to go build something with,” Brook said of Scott County. “ ... But all it takes is one game that one day. We have a shot. As long as we put our pants on and show up, we’ve got a chance.”