A lightning flash delayed the start of Lexington Christian Academy's game against Lone Oak in the first round of the Forcht Bank/KHSAA State Tournament at Applebee's Park Tuesday night.
But LCA didn't let Lone Oak's Purple Flash keep it from advancing to the quarterfinals. Led by Evan Stephens' perfect night at the plate, the Eagles hammered out a 7-2 victory and advanced to face No. 16 Male Thursday night.
LCA's bats didn't show any rust from a 12-day layoff since the region finals. They banged out 14 hits, including a 4-for-4 performance by Stephens.
"It was awesome," said Stephens, a senior left fielder who also scored three runs.
"I don't know if it was the intrasquad (scrimmages) we had or what, but we came out hitting the ball. It was fun."
Coach Keith Galloway was happy, too.
"I was proud of the way we came out and swung the bats," he said. "Grounders, line drives, gappers ... we looked sharp."
Lone Oak Coach Geno Miller wasn't surprised LCA had a grooved stroke.
"It's kind of like riding a horse," he said. "If you've done it one time ...
"I'm sure they did what they needed to do to prepare, and they're a good hitting team."
LCA never could relax against the Purple Flash. The team from Paducah took a 1-0 lead in the second before LCA started edging away.
But the Eagles still had to dodge trouble a few times.
They put up a three-spot in the third and a two-spot in the fifth, with Michael Lyon and Austin Bundy driving in two runs apiece.
LCA stretched its lead to 7-1 in the seventh, sparked by Stephens' double and Clay Mossbarger's bunt single.
Lone Oak, meanwhile, was threatening but not scoring.
It loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth off LCA starter Joe Duncan. Pinch hitter Colby Griggs ripped a line drive to left, but it was right at Stephens.
The Purple Flash also had scoring chances in the fifth and sixth but came up empty. They did get a run in the seventh off Armando Bosch, and had two runners on with no outs. But Bosch buckled down and struck out the next three batters.
"If we'd gotten a hit here or there, we might've made it closer," Miller said. "But we competed. I think anybody who watched the game knows we belonged here."
Duncan got the pitching win with five innings of work. Adam Shewmaker relieved in the sixth. Bosch closed it out.
"We want to keep all our (pitchers) as fresh as possible," Galloway said. "You never know when you'll have an extra-inning game.
"And this is the first time we've played in this kind of heat, and we're not sure how guys will bounce back."
LCA's date with Male will be a rematch. LCA beat the Bulldogs 5-1 on April 12.
Lexington Christian 003 020 2—7 14 2
Lone Oak 010 000 1—2 9 1
Joe Duncan, Adam Shewmaker (6), Armando Bosch (7) and Steven Hoagland. Lucas Englert, Jessie Turner (2), Jack Coleman (5), Eric Winn (7) and Winn, Brice Wright (7). W—Duncan. L—Englert. 2B—Sam Goode (LO), Shewmaker (LCA), Evan Stephens (LCA), Seth English (LO).
Records—LCA 27-10; Lone Oak 29-10