Henry Clay edged host Bryan Station for the 42nd District baseball championship Tuesday night.
But both sides came away from Eddie Sellier Field with some positives. And both advance to the 11th Region tournament, which will open Monday at Applebee's Park.
For No. 12 Henry Clay, a 7-6 victory showed a potent offense early and just-good-enough pitching to win.
Bryan Station (14-13), which trailed 6-0 and 7-1, showed plenty of grit.
Herb Hammond, in his 17th season as Henry Clay's coach, told his team that winning the non-elimination game was meaningful, that it was important not to regress.
Bryan Station gave the Devils all they wanted.
"They played hard," Hammond said. "They are a scrappy team. ... We were just lucky enough to hold them off."
Henry Clay (21-10) built an early 6-0 lead, scoring four runs in the first and two in the second. Another run in the fifth made it 7-1.
Bryan Station, which scored a run in the fourth, added three in the fifth.
Brady Boling's grounder scored one. Michael Bollmer and Chase Turner added back-to-back RBI singles.
In the seventh, Aaron Helton led off with a walk. Michael Bollmer then belted a home run over the right-field fence, making it a one-run game with nobody out.
"We were up 6-0, 7-1, then bing-bang, bing-bang, you look up, and it's 7-4, and a guy hits a two-run homer," Hammond said. "Now you're fighting for your life."
Henry Clay right-hander Will Hurt, who threw the final 21⁄3 innings in relief of Jordan Maher, retired the next three on ground balls.
"Our top of the lineup started hitting very early," said Corey Bays, who had three of the Devils' nine hits. "Once we got rolling, we started hitting the ball even better."
The Defenders used five pitchers in five innings, with Bobby Bollmer staying in for the last three frames.
"If you've got to pick one to lose, this is a great one to lose," Coach Eddie Brooks said. "And you lose to a quality team such as Henry Clay. I'm proud of our kids. They fought back out of a 6-0 deficit to make it a ball game in the last inning."
Henry Clay's four-run first included a two-run double by Alex Elswick, a sacrifice fly by Grant Klinksiek and a one-run double by Ryan McCray.
In the second, Bays doubled in a run. He stole second, then scored on a wild pitch.
Klinksiek scored the decisive run in the fifth. He walked, advancing on a wild pitch and a pair of steals.
Henry Clay 420 010 0—7 9 0
Bryan Station 000 130 2—6 10 0
Maher, Hurt (5) and McCray; Turner, Washington (2), Redmon (3), Craig (4), B. Bollmer (5) and Brady Boling. W—Maher. L—Turner. S—Hurt. HR—M. Bollmer (BS).
42nd All-District team—Brady Boling, Ryne Combs, Aaron Helton and Chase Turner (BS); Michael Buschmann, Ethan Boggs and Corey Bays (HC); Cabot Haggin and Nick Klus (Sayre); Luke Wright and Brian Simpkins (Scott Co.).