Lafayette's baseball team finished with the top seed in the 43rd District, considered by many to be the toughest in the state. It's the only district in which every member team has won a state title, so that assessment has some weight.
In a winner-takes-the-top-seed scenario, the Generals and Lexington Catholic played a game that lived up to those high expectations on Wednesday night. Lafayette overcame a 2-0 hole in its final at-bat to force extra innings and eventually leave the Knights' field with a 3-2 nine-inning victory.
A perfect bunt single by senior Matt Guilfoil and a sac fly evened things for the Generals in the top of the seventh after Lexington Catholic scored the game's first runs on RBI singles in the bottom of the sixth. Sammy Tackett scored the go-ahead run for Lafayette in the top of the ninth after a bounce was mishandled at second base.
Zak Tudor got the win after working 3 2/3 innings in relief of starter Devon Hart. He pitched the final out the night before at home in a 5-3 victory over the Knights, setting up Wednesday's pivotal series finale.
"We just stay positive in our head and we look out for one another," Tudor. "When it comes down to it, we just play for each other and play our hearts out."
The No. 1 seed in the 43rd District hasn't won the district tournament each of the last two seasons. Lafayette as a three seed defeated Lexington Catholic in the 2016 district finals and fifth-seeded Lexington Christian last year knocked Lexington Catholic out in the district semifinals before falling to Lafayette in the finals.
Lafayette, a one seed for the first time since 2015, will seek its fourth straight district-tournament title when postseason play begins the week after next.
"It's nice to win (the one seed) but that doesn't mean anything," said Lafayette Coach Chris Langston. "Everybody's good enough to beat us every night. We've seen that. We've just got to keep doing the things we've been doing all year."
Lexington Catholic (5-3 in district) will finish as either the two or three seed, which are automatically paired against each other in the semifinals. Lexington Christian (1-7) is locked in as the five seed.
The full 43rd District picture will be completed when Paul Laurence Dunbar visits Tates Creek at 2 p.m. Sunday. The Commodores are 4-3 and the Bulldogs are 3-4; a Dunbar victory would force a tie-breaker situation (runs allowed against district opponents) for the three seed. A Tates Creek win would do the same for the No. 2 seed with Lexington Catholic.