Applebee's Park has become Lexington Catholic's favorite get-away place in baseball's post-season in recent years, and the Knights are booked for another visit next week.
Lexington Catholic drilled Danville 15-2 Friday night at Henry Clay to win the best-of-three semi-state 2-0 and earn its third trip to the state tournament at Applebee's in the last four years.
"It's exhilarating," said first-year coach Kevin Clary after getting a celebratory ice-water shower from his players. "I'm so happy for the guys.
"Since the start of practice February 15, nobody gave us any respect the entire year. But the kids kept fighting and believing in each other. They deserve this."
Never miss a local story.
Lexington Catholic (26-8-3) will play Marshall County (29-4) Thursday in the state tournament.
The Knights hope history repeats itself.
They swept Danville in the semi-state in 2006 on their way to the state title. (They also won a state championship in 1999 at UK's Cliff Hagan Stadium.)
Devon Williams was the winning pitcher Friday night. The senior right-hander was nicked for two early runs, but he came on strong to improve his record to 8-0 this season.
He scattered five hits, struck out five and walked two before giving way to reliever Frank Carter in the sixth.
"I love getting the ball, especially in situations like this when we needed a win to get to Applebee's," Williams said.
Semi-state MVP Michael Schornick and John Michael Cowley led the offense with three hits apiece. Cowley also drove in three runs.
Frank Carter and Taylor Botkin had two hits apiece. Carter scored three times as the Knights mercy-ruled Danville for the second game in a row. (They won 10-0 in five innings on Monday.)
"Twenty-five runs in 11 innings, that's pretty good," Williams said.
Schornick, who had four hits and reached base in seven of eight at-bats in the semi-state, said the Knights are "playing awesome. We're on a streak, we're hot. We're not losing focus."
Danville gave its fans something to cheer about early. Its first batter of the night, Duran Elmore, hit a homer to right field. The Admirals made it 2-0 in the second on Andrew Lasure's single, stolen base and Cody Vest's two-out hit.
But Lexington Catholic didn't stay quiet long.
The Knights tied it in the third on hits by Botkin, Cowley and Williams.
They took the lead for good in the fourth. Carter scored on a throwing error, and pinch-runner Troy Miller came home on Casey Messner's two-out single to make it 4-2.
The onslaught was just beginning. Lexington Catholic put up a four-spot in the fifth and a seven-spot in the sixth to cap their 15-run explosion that came at the expense of four Danville pitchers.
Clary said the Knights set a goal of scoring at least six runs in each game, and he was confident Williams wouldn't give up that many.
He was also optimistic his team's offense would make up the early deficit.
"These kids really swing (the bat)," he said. "We kind of take after the LSU philosophy. In practice, we hit, hit and hit some more.
"They love to hit, and it shows."
And they hope to show it at Applebee's Park next week.
Lexington Catholic 002 247 —15 13 2
Danville 110 000 — 2 5 1
Devon Williams, Frank Carter (6) and Michael Schornick. Dustin Sparrow, Duran Elmore (5), Michael Evans (6), Max Meckes (6) and Jeff Embree. 2B—John Michael Cowley (LC), Michael Schornick (LC), Frank Carter (LC). HR—Duran Elmore (D).
Records — Lexington Catholic 26-8-3; Danville 27-13