Harrison County will take a swing at another state baseball championship Saturday night.
The No. 8 Thorobreds held off No. 16 Male 8-5 in the semifinals of the Forcht Bank/KHSAA State Tournament in front of 3,673 fans at Applebee's Park Friday night.
Harrison County, which won three titles in the 1990s, will face Butler in Saturday's 7 p.m. finals.
"To beat two Louisville schools back-to-back will be difficult," Coach Mac Whitaker said. "And we're going to face one of the best pitchers in the state (Butler's Kyle McGrath)."
The Thorobreds have been hard to rein in this week. They galloped by Clay County 8-0 in the first round and by Daviess County 7-1 in the quarterfinals.
Harrison County bolted out of the gate against Male, with Eric Sanders and Logan Dailey wielding the big bats.
Sanders, a junior outfielder, singled in the first to drive in Christian Chasteen with the first run, and hit his first homer of the season in the third with Chasteen aboard.
"He's what you call a big-time, big-game player," Whitaker said of Sanders.
Dailey hit a two-run double in the third to make it 5-0, had a sacrifice fly and a run-scoring single in the seventh.
Down 6-1, Male rallied and put a scare in Harrison County. After pulling to within 6-2 in the fifth, it mounted a big charge in the sixth.
With one out, Tyler Adams doubled home Dalton Howell to make it 6-3. Tanner Hobbs singled and Trey Simpson walked to load the bases.
Zack Bynum then grounded to short, and Jared Martin tossed to second baseman Matthew Dye, who stepped on the bag and threw to first to try to get the double play.
Bynum beat the throw, and two runs scampered home for Male. Lost amid the Bulldogs' celebration was the umpire's ruling of runner interference at second. That meant Bynum was out at first, the inning was over and the two runs didn't count.
Dailey was a workhorse on the mound. The junior right-hander, who threw three innings against Clay County on Tuesday, struggled at times against Male. But he got the big outs.
"It takes a lot of heart, and one thing Logan's got is a big heart," Whitaker said.
Ryan Messex led Male's offense by hammering four doubles.
Harrison County will make its sixth appearance in the finals. Besides winning the title in 1993, '97 and '98, it was runner-up in 1984 and '87.Harrison County 104 010 2—8 8 2
Male 000 111 2—5 12 4
Logan Dailey and Hunter Hill. Blake Oyler, Taylor Isbell (6) and Ryan Messex. W—Dailey. L—Oyler. 2B—Logan Dailey (HC); Messex (M), 4; Tyler Adams (M), Jared Martin (HC). HR—Eric Sanders (HC).
Records—Harrison County 35-4; Male 29-12