FRANKFORT — After waiting 21 hours to restart its 11th Region baseball tournament semifinal game against Scott County, Madison Central needed only 15 minutes to secure a 3-2 victory Wednesday night at Western Hills.
The No. 23 Indians advance to the region finals for the first time since 2005. They will face defending champion and top-rated Tates Creek in Thursday's title game.
Madison Central and Scott County were tied 2-2 with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning Tuesday night when lightning forced the game to be suspended.
The Indians were threatening to score when play was halted. Pinch-runner Kirkland Humphrey was at third and Joe Holbrook was at first. Cory Mullins was at the plate with a 2-0 count.
Madison Central Coach Steve Roof said he heard a lot of suggestions Wednesday at school about what kind of strategy to use when the game resumed.
"About 10 different people gave me advice. The consensus was just to get the run in," Roof said with a laugh.
Mullins said the only instruction his coach gave him was "to go up there and have fun. There was no game plan. I just had to do what was necessary to win the game."
Scott County Coach Scott Willard sent hard-throwing Chase Martin to the mound, hoping to get a strikeout.
It didn't happen.
On Martin's first pitch, a ball, Holbrook stole second.
The next pitch was a called strike.
On the next pitch, Mullins slapped a high bouncer to short. The speedy Humphrey scored as Mullins was thrown out at first.
Martin retired the next batter, but the damage was done.
Sophomore Kyle Kelsey came on to pitch the seventh for Madison Central. He got two quick outs before Malik Wilson walked and Johnson McKenzie got an infield hit.
Kelsey wasn't rattled, though. He struck out Scott County's lead-off man Cam Hill on three change-ups.
Kelsey said he was plenty motivated to pitch well. He started and lost against Scott County in the first round of the region tournament last year.
"I was pretty mad from what happened last time, and I wanted a little vengeance," he said.
Roof had faith in Kelsey.
"We knew he wouldn't be afraid," Roof said. "He's such a competitor. He loves being in that situation."
Holbrook pitched the first six innings for Madison Central. He scattered five hits and struck out four.
Matt Gregory worked five strong innings for Scott County. He gave up only four hits, but the Indians got two unearned runs in the fifth on a walk, a single, an error, a wild pitch and a passed ball.
Willard admitted his team was in a tough spot when play resumed.
"It was a tough decision not to walk (Mullins), but I thought Chase might be able to get us a strikeout," he said.
"It's one of those times where you roll the dice."
Willard wasn't surprised his Cards tried to rally with two outs in the seventh.
"That's the mode of operation for this team," he said. "They never quit."
Roof knows Madison Central is an underdog to Tates Creek, but he's sure his players crave the challenge.
"This is a really relaxed, fun group," he said. "We'll have fun, play hard and see what happens."
Scott Co. 010 100 0—2 6 2
Madison Central 000 021 x— 3 4 1
Matt Gregory, Chase Martin (6) and Matt Malesick. Joe Holbrook, Kyle Kesley and Cory Mullins. 2B--Chase Martin (SC), Tanner Blankenship (SC).
Records—Scott County 25-10; Madison Central 29-8