Lexington Catholic had a newspaper clipping taped to its dugout wall Wednesday that detailed how last year its No. 1-ranked, defending state champ baseball team lost in the first round of the district.
No. 1 again going into this post-season, the Knights didn't let history repeat itself.
Led by the pitching of Taylor Martin and the hitting of Troy Miller, host Lexington Catholic beat No. 10 Paul Laurence Dunbar 7-1 in the semifinals of the 43rd District.
In the second game, No. 8 Tates Creek, powered by terrific pitching by Aaron Mitchell and three home runs, edged No. 6 Lafayette 5-3.
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Landon Skaggs, Travis Murray and Ryan Fucci hit solo homers for the Commodores. Mitchell, a sophomore left-hander, threw a complete-game four-hitter with eight strikeouts.
Tates Creek will play Lexington Catholic in Thursday's 7 p.m. finals, with both teams advancing to the 11th Region Tournament next week.
Lexington Catholic 7, Dunbar 1: Martin, unlike most of his teammates, said he doesn't dwell on what happened last year. He prefers to be motivated by what happened in 2009, when he helped the Knights to the state title.
"I'd rather have good memories than bad ones," he said.
Martin made another good memory Wednesday. The senior right-hander, who has signed with UK, threw a complete-game two-hitter.
Martin didn't have his best stuff — "My curveball (location) was terrible," he said. — but he still stymied the Bulldogs. Their only hits were back-to-back singles in the third by Kyle Monthie and Zack Herrin that led to Graham Winchester's RBI groundout.
Martin retired 13 of the next 14 batters to run his record to 7-0 with a 0.90 earned run average.
"We have a lot of confidence in a guy like Taylor," Coach Taylor Brooks said. "He really competed and battled."
Lexington Catholic's offense got a big lift from Miller, who was hit by a pitch and eventually scored to tie it 1-1 in the third. He put the Knights ahead to stay with a first-pitch two-run single in the fourth.
"(Dunbar pitcher Cameron Langfels) walked the guy in front of me on four pitches, so I was looking for the perfect pitch," Miller said.
He got it: a fastball down the middle that he ripped into right field.
Miller smacked a two-run homer in the sixth to all but seal the victory.
"Troy's had that kind of year, getting runners in," Brooks said. "He's killing the ball right now."
Tates Creek 5, Lafayette 3: The Commodores, who beat Lafayette 9-6 in extra innings in last year's district semifinals, survived another close one with the Generals Wednesday night.
Mitchell went the distance on the mound to improve to 9-1 this season.
"He really threw a great game by keeping the hitters off balance," Coach Dom Fucci said.
Lafayette got a solo homer from Tyler Messner in the second, but had to scratch out its other two runs on a pair of infield hits, a single and a Tates Creek error.
Lafayette ace Logan Shaftner, who had given up only five earned runs in 44 innings in the regular season, surrendered five to the Commodores.
Skaggs and Murray hit moon shots in the second, and Fucci's opposite-field homer in the fifth put Tates Creek ahead to stay at 4-3.
"Shaftner's a great pitcher, but our guys were on tilt there," Dom Fucci said.
Mitchell got stronger as the game progressed. He retired Lafayette in order the last three innings.
"I felt pretty comfortable," he said. "My fastball was working and my curveball was working, and the defense backed me up great."
Paul Dunbar 001 000 0—1 2 2
Lexington Catholic 001 402 x—7 10 0
Tyler Cox, Cameron Langels (4), Stephen Shunk 6 and Ryan Akins. Taylor Martin and Tyler Jackson. 2B--Tyler Wells (LC). HR--Troy Miller (LC).
Records--Dunbar 24-12; Lexington Catholic 27-5
Tates Creek 021 011 0—5 6 1
Lafayette 011 100 0—3 4 1
Aaron Mitchell and Landon Skaggs. Logan Shaftner, Kevin Herrin (6) and Tyler Messner. HR--Skaggs (TC), Travis Murray (TC), Ryan Fucci (TC), Messner (L).
Records--Tates Creek 26-9; Lafayette 21-10