When Aaron McGeorge is on the mound for Henry Clay, a baseball game's natural lethargy gives way to a crackling liveliness.
McGeorge was at his quick-work best against No. 17 Lexington Christian in the 11th Region semifinals Thursday night. The senior right-hander threw a complete game as the host Blue Devils won 3-0 in a game that lasted just over 90 minutes.
The victory puts Henry Clay in Saturday night's region finals against No. 5 Madison Central. The Devils are seeking their first region title since 2000. Madison Central hasn't won it since 1993.
"If you get to the finals, anything can happen," Henry Clay Coach Jordan Tarrence said. "You just want to give yourself that chance."
McGeorge didn't leave much to chance. He needed only 85 pitches (including 53 strikes) to blank LCA on six hits (all singles) and improve his record to 8-1.
"A couple of times I even had to tell Aaron to slow down," Tarrence said. "He gets in too big of a hurry sometimes."
The glove guys behind him like that tempo.
"Our defense makes plays when he's pitching because he's always in the zone so they have to be on their toes." Tarrence said. "They know any given second the ball could be coming their way."
The Devils turned two big double plays: a fairly routine one (5-4-3) in the fourth, and a nifty one (3-6-3).
"I love having people behind me make plays," McGeorge said. "It's awesome."
With Henry Clay up 1-0 in the fifth, LCA's Robbie Stephens drew a leadoff walk. Hunter Wills followed with a grounder just to the left of the first-base bag.
Henry Clay's Cameron Lord scooped up the ball and glanced behind him before firing to second for the force. Shortstop Sam Jiunta's relay back to Lord completed the double play.
Tarrence confessed he swallowed hard when he saw Lord throw to second: "I was like, 'Oh gosh, oh gosh . . . great job!'"
Henry Clay took a 1-0 lead when Jiunta led off the game by reaching on an error and eventually scoring on Blake Urbanek's two-out single.
That score stood until Lord hit a solo homer with one out in the top of the sixth.
"It was a fastball low and inside," he said. "I jumped on it."
The ball jumped off his bat and over the left-field fence for his first homer of the season.
The Devils added another run in the seventh on back-to-back doubles by Urbanek and Ben Rider.
"That third run was the killer," LCA Coach Keith Galloway said.
LCA starter Jaxson Blair, a junior righty, worked into the seventh and was in a groove most of the night.
"He pitched great," Galloway said. "We got out of him what we really wanted to get out of him.
"We just weren't able to string together any hits, and Henry Clay had a couple big double plays to get out of jams. The difference was their hits were for extra bases; ours were singles."
Galloway also credited McGeorge for negating LCA's speed on the bases with a quick pickoff move.
"We weren't able to run and make things happen," he said. "When you have to play station-to-station, it makes for an uphill battle."
The Eagles had a successful season. They won 25 games, including the All "A" state title, and made it to the region semifinals for the first time in five years.
"An excellent group of seniors gave their heart and soul to the program," Galloway said. "They're great young men. Probably no group has gone through our school with better GPAs, getting it done in the classroom as well as on the field, as this group."