Lexington Christian entered the 11th Region as one of the hottest teams in the state but couldn’t sustain its momentum against Woodford County, which knocked the Eagles out of the 11th Region tournament with a 7-3 victory to kick off the event Monday afternoon at Madison Southern.
The Yellowjackets got their first regional win under second-year coach Paul Patterson and the program’s second since it won the region (and later, the state tournament) in 2012.
Jack Ockerman, a senior lefty who’s signed with The Citadel and was player of the year in the 11th Region, got the win for the Yellowjackets (25-10). LCA, which split two meetings with Woodford in the regular season, had not seen Ockerman prior to the region opener.
“He had a couple of innings there where they were getting some guys, a couple of stressful innings, and then he just kept battling and never gave into ’em,” Patterson said. “He put us in a great position to win. When I’ve got a chance to put Jack on the mound I’m feeling pretty good. There’s not a whole lot I did other than watch him play.”
Eagles Coach Keith Galloway was prepared to see the Jackets’ ace this time.
“As a left-handed pitcher, we’ve had a little bit of struggle with that throughout the year,” Galloway said. “ … Early on I was really pleased with the way our lefties hit him than our righties. But he did a great job.”
It was the final game for Galloway, who announced prior to the season that this would be his final go-around with the baseball program whose reins he took in 1999.
Galloway insisted his final post-game speech would not be emotional.
“We’ve celebrated, we’ve talked about it enough, it won’t be emotional, it really won’t,” said Galloway. “I’m thankful for the opportunity I’ve had.”
He expressed gratitude to LCA’s administration and a number of individuals over the years who’ve enabled him to have a career that included a state championship (2005), four All “A” titles and more than 400 victories.
“I’ve gotten out of it everything I want to get out of it,” Galloway said. “I got a chance to invest in young men’s lives and that’s really what it’s about. I had great people and great assistant coaches around me the whole time and I couldn’t have asked for a better ride.”
That ride was extended last week following LCA’s unexpected run to the 43rd District championship game as a fifth seed in the tournament. Galloway was glad that this year’s players, who hadn’t had much success up to that point, got to experience that thrill.
He would’ve loved it for his guys if they could’ve kept marching, but on an individual level Galloway offered some healthy perspective.
“I can’t be greedy,” Galloway said. “We’ve had success as a LCA baseball program, so I can’t be greedy. If God wants to choose somebody else this time around, that’s fine.”