Strong starting pitching and timely hitting have been the winning formula for Lexington Catholic this baseball post-season, and they used it again Monday night.
The ninth-rated Knights made quick work of Danville in the opening game of a best-of-three semi-state, rolling to a 10-0 five-inning victory that took less than two hours at Henry Clay.
The teams will hook up again Wednesday night.
Taylor Martin had another impressive start on the mound for Lexington Catholic, and he got terrific offensive support right off the bat. The Knights jumped ahead 4-0 in the first inning, with Michael Jansen delivering the big hit.
Before Jansen came to the plate, Danville intentionally walked Devon Williams to load the bases with one out and no score.
The Admirals wanted left-handed ace Duran Elmore to face lefty-swinging Jansen instead of righty Williams.
But Jansen said the move agitated him in a good way.
"You a get a little adrenaline flowing because you want to make them pay for disrespecting you like that."
Knights Coach Kevin Clary agreed.
"That's a slap in the face when they walk the guy in front of you," he said.
So Jansen returned the favor and slapped a double into the right-center gap, driving in three runs. Two Danville errors later, Jansen trotted home to make it 4-0.
Lexington Catholic pushed its lead to 6-0 on Frank Carter's double in the third, then closed it out with four in the fifth. John Michael Cowley's RBI single chased home Taylor Botkin with the 10th run to end it on a mercy rule.
Martin stymied Danville on just three hits. He had seven strikeouts and one walk.
The sophomore right-hander, who beat Tates Creek in the district and Henry Clay in the region, has an impressive body of work in the playoffs. He's pitched 16 innings, given up four earned runs and 11 hits while striking out 18 and walking six.
"Masterful" was Clary's description of Martin's effort against Danville. "He uses both sides of the plate, he lets his defense work behind him, but his biggest asset is he's a competitive son of a buck. He's meaner than a rattlesnake, too, and that helps."
Jansen said the Knights are confident when Martin is throwing. "We know if we scored a few behind him, he's gonna shut 'em down."
Danville Coach Paul Morse thought the game swung in the first inning.
Ben Ray doubled and Jeff Embree singled to give the Admirals runners on the corners with one out. But Martin fanned the next two batters.
"That was the big difference — the first inning," Morse said. "We had a chance to put some runs up, but Martin did a good job of pitching when those guys got on there."
Since Danville won the 12th Region last weekend, Morse has been preaching to his players to get the jump on their opponent.
"But we kind of came out on our heels a little bit," he said.
When Danville and Lexington Catholic met in the 2006 semi-state, the Knights swept the first two games. The Admirals will try to avoid a similar fate on Wednesday.
Danville 000 00— 0 3 3
Lexington Catholic 402 04—10 9 0
Duran Elmore, Max Meckes (4), Cody Vest (5) and Jeff Embree. Taylor Martin and Michael Schornick. 2B—Ben Ray (D), Michael Jansen (LC), Casey Messner (LC), Frank Carter (LC).
Records—Danville 27-12; Lexington Catholic 25-8-3