Meade County pitcher Garrett Ledford continued his post-season prowess, and the Green Wave made the most of a two-hit offense in beating Ashland Blazer 4-2 in the quarterfinals of the Kentucky National Insurance/KHSAA State Tournament on Thursday night.
"We scratch and claw, and we're not always pretty," Coach Todd Clanton said. "But we don't break."
Ledford, who got a victory in the district and two in the region, stymied the Tomcats most of the night for his fourth playoff win. The senior right-hander is 10-0 this year.
Meade County (27-9) advances to face Henderson County (28-13-1) in Friday night's semifinals at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
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The Green Wave didn't do much with their bats, but it didn't matter. They manufactured more than enough runs to support Ledford.
How ineffective was Meade County at the plate?
It had two (infield) singles and didn't hit a ball to the outfield through the first five innings but still led 4-0.
"We're getting good at-bats," Clanton said. "We're just not finishing."
The Green Wave went ahead 1-0 in the fourth. Lead-off man Ledford was hit by a pitch. Courtesy runner Derek Bruner moved to second on Jake Wilson's infield hit and scored on an Ashland throwing error.
Meade County didn't have a hit in pushing across three runs in the fifth. The Tomcats fueled the rally by issuing three walks, hitting a batter and making an error.
Bo Wilson scored on a walk. Kaleb Lancaster crossed the plate when Jake Wilson was hit by a pitch. Bruner scored on a fielder's choice.
Ashland threatened in the top of the sixth when it loaded the bases with two outs. But Ledford got a strikeout to end the inning.
The Tomcats finally got to Ledford in the seventh. Sam Hunter's triple drove in Logan Salow, and Cade O'Bryan doubled home Hunter.
But Ledford closed the door after that. He finished the game with seven strikeouts. He gave up six hits and three walks.
Clanton said the Green Wave coaches helped Ledford work on his mental toughness through the off-season and this spring.
"And time and time again this year, he's come through for us," Clanton said.
Ashland Coach Jeff Wilcox said his team had its chances throughout the night, "but we just couldn't come up with the big hit until the last inning. And (on defense) we didn't make some plays we should've made.
"But I'm very happy. My team went down with a fight. That's been their mark all year long: playing tough. I'm very proud of them."
Ashland Blazer 000 000 1—2 8 2
Meade Co. 000 130 x—4 2 0
Logan Salow, Steve Adkins (5), Aaron Elam (6) and Cameron Fritz. Garrett Ledford and Brady Smith. 2B—Cade O'Bryan (A). 3B—Sam Hunter (A).
Records—Ashland Blazer 28-9; Meade Co. 27-9.