Knights bats sing; Maronde silences NCC

FRANKFORT — The cicadas were noisier than Lexington Catholic's bats through the first four innings of Wednesday night's best-of-three semi-state baseball opener against Newport Central Catholic.

The good news for the Knights was that ace Nick Maronde was humming along in his usual dominant fashion.

Even better news for Lexington Catholic came in the fifth inning when it erupted for five runs, then cruised home for a 5-0 victory at Franklin County.

Ben Hume started the rally with a one-out walk, and Ben Cloyd followed with a single. After Devon Williams' fielder's choice, Will Hicks ripped a two-out single up the middle to score pinch runner Brooks Richardson.

”It looked good to me so I hit it,“ Hicks said about jumping on the first pitch from Newport Catholic's Michael Enzweiler.

Michael Champa made it 2-0 with a base hit that drove in pinch runner Tyler Wells. Ken Riley then delivered the killing blow — a towering three-run homer to center.

Lexington Catholic Coach Rodney Martin attributed his team's slow start offensively to a long layoff.

”We looked like we hadn't played in a week, and that hurts you worst in the (batter's) box,“ he said. ”We had a lot of rust.“

Maronde looked in top form, though. He threw a complete-game one-hitter, struck out 12 and walked two to improve his record to 7-1 this season and 36-2 in his career.

”He's a heck of a pitcher, the best I've seen since I've been coaching,“ Newport Catholic Coach Jeff Schulkens said. ”We've seen nobody like that in northern Kentucky.“

Martin said Maronde was ”just doing his thing. What do you say when a guy comes out and throws like that every game of his career?“

Winning the opening game of this short series puts the Knights in good position.

”It's a huge plus to win the first one,“ Maronde said. ”It puts pressure on them to win two.“

Hicks agreed.

”It's good to have the momentum,“ he said.

Schulkens said he was pleased ”with the way (the Thoroughbreds) battled.

”We'll come back tomorrow.“

The semi-state winner advances to the Forcht Bank State Tournament at Applebee's Park next week.