Bishop Brossart didn't show any stage fright while making its debut in the Kentucky National Insurance/ KHSAA State Baseball Tournament at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on Monday night.
The Mustangs, led by the strong pitching of Zach Fardo and clutch hitting, beat Pikeville 4-2 in a showdown of Class A schools.
Brossart Coach Ron Verst wasn't surprised by his players' poise on the big stage.
"The last few weeks they've built a confidence in themselves that's carried over to the way they've played.
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"A lot of them have played in this park before in the All 'A' (Classic), so they weren't intimidated coming in here, and they were pretty confident in their ability."
Fardo did his job. He worked six innings, gave up four hits, struck out four and walked two. Conner Verst closed out the seventh.
The Mustangs' big hits included an RBI double by Tanner Norton, an RBI triple by Trevor Bezold, and a run-scoring single by Jesse Orth.
Pikeville's runs came on RBI hits by J.P. Coleman and Jacob Burke.
The Panthers loaded the bases with no outs in the third but came up empty when, with one out, base runner Reese Ward was called for interference sliding into second, and Brossart was given an inning-ending double play.
"I thought that was the turning point," Pikeville Coach Stephen Priode said.
"This game could've gone either way. Two pretty good Class A schools battling it out. I give Bishop Brossart credit. They did what they had to do."
South Warren 3, Central Hardin 1: South Warren Coach Chris Gage thought defending state champion Central Hardin had the swagger, but his Spartans had Josh Bartley on the mound, and that was the difference.
Bartley threw a complete-game three-hitter and had nine strikeouts to lead South Warren to its 13th victory in a row.
"He's our horse, and there was no doubt we were going with him today and staying with him today," Gage said.
Bartley, who started his high school career at Greenwood before South Warren opened two years ago, ran his record to 8-2.
"As a leader, I was trying to keep our guys calm," Bartley said. "This was just another game. It was in a bigger stadium, on a bigger level, but we just had to play our game."
Central Hardin's Josh Krupinski also turned in a strong pitching performance, allowing just three hits and striking out six. But three unearned runs did him in,
South Warren took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Jacob Boose singled, went to second on a balk, stole third and came home on a throwing error.
Central Hardin tied it in the top of the sixth when Troy Squires reached base on a fielder's choice and eventually scored on an error.
Krupinski got himself into trouble in the bottom of the sixth when, with two outs, he hit Andrew Vanthournout and Jacob Vaughn, and walked Bartley to load the bases.
It looked as if Krupinski might get out of the jam when he got Cole Dillard to ground to third, but Troy Riggs' throw to first was in the dirt, and Andrew Harrington couldn't make the scoop. Vanthournout and Vaughn scampered home with the decisive runs.
Central Hardin Coach Todd Thompson credited Bartley for stifling the Bruins.
"He's a top-notch pitcher. He looked like he'd thrown on this field for four years. He kept his composure and threw good pitches when he had to."
Bishop Brossart 002 020 0—4 8 1
Pikeville 010 001 0—2 4 2
Zach Fardo, Conner Verst (7) and Tanner Norton. Randy Maynard, Jacob Hamilton (5) and Gavin Miller. 2B—Jared Hahn (BB), Tanner Norton (BB), Jacob Burke (P). 3B—Trevor Bezold.
Records—Brossart 26-12; Pikeville 27-8
Central Hardin 000 001 0—1 3 3
South Warren 000 102 x—3 3 2
Josh Krupinski and Gabe Hogan. Josh Bartley and Tanner Davidson. 2B—Cannon Ray.
Records—Central Hardin 31-10; South Warren 23-13