FRANKFORT — Lexington Christian Academy's baseball team, showing the same kind of spirit that carried it to a state championship in 2005, is headed back to the big show at Applebee's Park.
LCA, rated sixth in the state, won the 11th Region by overwhelming Henry Clay 17-8 in Wednesday night's finals at Franklin County.
The Eagles will play 1st Region winner Lone Oak (29-9) in the first round of the Forcht Bank State Tournament at Applebee's Park on June 15.
Coach Keith Galloway sees a major similarity in this team and the one that won the state title five years ago.
"Senior leadership," he said. "These seniors have set a high example on and off the field like in '05."
Senior outfielder Evan Stephens senses a special karma.
"We have something going for us right now," he said. "We love playing together, and we play with a lot of heart."
LCA, known for its deep pitching, showed an explosive offense in beating Henry Clay, Madison Central and Bryan Station this week. The Eagles totaled 34 runs and 36 hits in three games.
Stephens and Lucas Witt led Wednesday's assault. Each got on base five times as LCA beat Henry Clay for the seventh time in a row since 2007.
Stephens, who will walk on at Wake Forest next fall, had two hits, two runs, an RBI, was hit by a pitch twice and reached on an error.
Witt, a senior center fielder who has signed with Kentucky, had three singles, walked twice and scored twice.
"We're coming together and playing our best baseball at just the right time," Witt said. "Hopefully we can carry it on and do something special in the state tournament."
LCA, which spotted Henry Clay a 1-0 lead, came roaring back and took a 7-2 lead with five runs in the fourth.
But Henry Clay rallied for four in the bottom of the fifth. Ethan Boggs' three-run homer capped the comeback.
LCA didn't flinch. After their lead shrank to 7-6, the Eagles answered with 10 runs in the last two innings.
It was a disappointing end to a terrific post-season run for Henry Clay, which was unranked all season. The Devils' nightmarish title game included six errors.
First-year Henry Clay coach Jordan Tarrence said his team will learn from its experiences this post-season.
The Devils will miss senior leaders Boggs, Ryan McCray, Nolan Fernandez, Matt Cox and Marcus Young, but they'll return key players, including Corey Bays, James Hendron and Walker Buehler.
"We had five seniors who were great and we wouldn't have made it this far without them," Tarrence said. "But 17 other guys were on the bench who now know what it takes to get here. Now we have to learn what it takes to win it."
Lexington Christian 002 504 6—17 17 2
Henry Clay 101 040 2— 8 12 6
Clay Hall, Scout McCamy (5) and Steven Hoagland. Walker Buehler, Derek Bush (6), Shane Ragan (6), Ben Cooper (7) and Ryan McCray. 2B—Hoagland (LCA), Clay Mossbarger (LCA), Evan Stephens (LCA), Ethan McKiddy (LCA), Ian Kalinowski (LCA). HR—Ethan Boggs (HC).
Records—LCA 26-10; Henry Clay 24-14
All-tournament team: Steven Hoagland (MVP), Lucas Witt, Evan Stephens, Nate Coon of LCA; Matt Cox, Ryan McCray, Ethan Boggs of Henry Clay; Andrew Cammack, J.T. Riddle of Western Hills; Isaac Smith, Austin Hunt of Madison Central; Sean Thompson of Franklin County; Justin Miley of Bryan Station; Dylan Justice of Tates Creek; Curtis Roberts of Model.