With a 6-0 record in district play and scoring 46 of the 47 runs in those games, Henry Clay came in to Monday's 42nd District baseball tournament a heavy favorite.
The host team, did not disappoint, whipping Sayre 13-3 in a six-inning mercy finish. Bryan Station upended Scott County 9-6 in the opener.
Both winners will advance to next week's 11th Region Tournament at Franklin County. First, though, they will face off in the district title game, Wednesday at 7 p.m.
During the regular season, Henry Clay beat Bryan Station 8-0 and 3-1 in April.
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Bryan Station 9, Scott Co. 6: The Defenders made the most of six walks and four Scott County errors.
Sophomore left-hander Ryne Combs worked 62⁄3 innings for the win and Damian Beveridge drove in four runs with a pair of doubles. Justin Miley singled and pulled off two successful squeeze bunts.
"They came out today and competed," Coach Eddie Brooks said. "We got a great start from Combs, ... we were able to get the big plays when we had to have them, a big hit here and there when we had to have them. Probably played our best baseball game of the year from the first pitch on, and that's what the big difference was."
The Defenders (16-15) got hot at tourney time last year, reaching the region finals.
"Oh, we're going to win State," Beveridge said. "I believe it. We all do here."
Combs gave up seven hits and walked three while striking out four. Yuron Washington got the final out.
Bryan Station rallied from a 2-0 deficit to score four runs on one hit, three walks and an error in the third inning.
The one hit, though, was Beveridge's three-run double.
"I've been early all season, but I'm waiting back now, starting to hit the ball a lot better and helping my team out more," Beveridge said.
The Cardinals (19-17) took the early lead with a pair of second-inning runs. One run scored on Zach Sutton's infield chopper, the other on a passed ball.
"It took me a while to warm up," Combs said. "My boys had my back."
Henry Clay 13, Sayre 3: Sophomore right-hander Walker Buehler, who transferred from Sayre as an eighth-grader, went the distance and held the Spartans (16-14) to five hits.
"I know a lot of them," said Buehler, who struck out six and walked one. "It was fun. I was really excited."
Buehler was backed by a 15-hit attack.
Ethan Boggs led the way with four hits. James Hendron, Derek Bush and Matt Cox each had three.
"The last couple weeks we haven't hit it near as well, so I was pleased," Coach Jordan Torrence said. "I think we scored every inning but the first, so very pleased with the way we hit the ball tonight."
Henry Clay (21-13) notched four runs in the second. Bush singled in a run, another scored on Cox's sacrifice fly and two came in on Corey Bays' double.
Boggs' RBI double made it 5-0 through three innings and the rout was on.
Sayre got a two-run double from Nick Klus in the fourth and scored once in the sixth.
Bryan Station 004 220 1—9 7 2
Scott Co. 020 200 2—6 7 4
Combs, Washington (7) and Boling; Gruchow, Warman (4), Cornish (5) and Wright. W—Combs. L—Gruchow. 2B—Beveridge 2, Halderman (BS); Dotson (SC).
Sayre 000 201— 3 5 2
Henry Clay 041 332—13 15 0
Haggin, Patterson (5) and Klus; Buehler and McCray. W—Buehler. L—Haggin. 2B—Bays, Boggs, Hendron (HC); Klus (S).