The seventh time was the charm for Scott County.
After losing its previous six meetings with Lafayette dating back to 2010, the Cardinals pulled off an 8-5 victory in the semifinals of the 11th Region tournament Tuesday night at Madison Southern.
Er, Wednesday morning? The contest started about 9:30 because the previous semifinal between Sayre and Woodford County suffered an hour-long weather delay. Scott County-Lafayette ended at 12:20 a.m.
Scott County will look to defend its 11th Region throne Wednesday night against Sayre, which made the finals for the first time in program history.
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A slugfest broke out in a game projected as a pitcher’s duel since both teams had their respective aces going on the bump. Scott County scored seven runs over the third and fourth innings, twice answering productive frames by Lafayette.
“Baseball’s funny,” Cards Coach Scott Willard said. “You come to the ballpark expecting one thing and get something completely different. That’s just the way it goes.”
Lafayette struck first, taking a 1-0 lead on a Matt Guilfoil double in the second inning. A fielder’s choice moved Guilfoil home after he stole third.
Scott County tied the game on an error after its first two batters of the third reached via an error and a single. It took its first lead on a two-run homer by freshman Cade McKee, but the Generals matched those runs in the bottom of the frame with RBI singles by John Stinetorf and Guilfoil.
“Tonight we kind of let (starting pitcher Brady Bowling) down with that big inning, which we hadn’t done all year,” Lafayette Coach Chris Langston said. “We haven’t kicked the ball like that.”
Trent Fox, the Cardinals’ nine-hole hitter and the twin brother of starting pitcher Jordan Fox, helped his brother’s cause with a run-scoring double in the top of the fourth. University of Kentucky commit Cam Hill hit a single to score Fox.
Hill was able to score on a sac fly later in the fourth to put the Cards up 7-4. He scored their final run in the sixth inning on a Kyle Harbison single.
Jordan Fox went five and 2/3 innings before being removed from the game as he drew close to the pitch-count limit. He struck out eight batters and walked two while allowing four runs on six hits
“It was a gutsy effort by Jordan,” Willard said. “He didn’t have his best stuff tonight and went out there and battled.”
Brian Thorn came on for the final out of the sixth inning before Hill finished the game for Scott County. The senior closed frequently last season and did so earlier this season but hadn’t done so in a while.
Willard wanted to give Hill a bullpen session in practice on Sunday but a back injury suffered at Project Graduation prevented that.
“He said, ‘Heck yea,’” Willard said when Hill was asked to finish the game. “ … We were at the part of the order where we wanted to really try and challenge ’em and he did.”
Lafayette, ranked sixth in the latest Max Preps computer ratings, was the final public school still playing baseball or softball. The Generals finished 23-10.
Langston, who crossed the 500-win plateau earlier in the season, said he put a lot on the shoulders of his seniors this season. He challenged them to be leaders in terms of attitude and work ethic, something that hadn’t been as much the case in the past.
“I can’t say enough about them changing the program that way,” Langston said. “I’m just very proud of them.”