After giving up his second lead of the game, Lexington Catholic pitcher Eric Sottile escaped a bases-loaded jam in the top of the sixth inning against Tates Creek in the 43rd District semifinals. He made up for his miscue in the bottom of it.
Sottile knocked a 2-RBI triple to centerfield and scored on a sac fly to give Lexington Catholic a 7-4 lead. He and the second-seeded Knights held onto that advantage for a victory over the host Commodores, earning a berth to the 11th Region tournament and a shot at the district title on Thursday night.
After an early exit from last season's tournament — the Knights lost in the semifinals as the top seed — Catholic was determined to make amends. It lost 65 percent of its innings pitched to graduation, but Sottile was among the 35 percent that returned. He went the distance, striking out seven batters and allowing three earned runs on five hits and three walks.
"Eric's a senior leader and he's been here before," Catholic Coach Taylor Brooks said. "He's played big games before for us and he just came out composed and competed his butt off."
The Knights (20-9) nursed a 2-0 lead for three innings before Tates Creek scored three runs on a home run by Eli Tenzca in the top of the fourth. Catholic got two runs — one on an error and another on a bases-loaded walk — to retake the lead in the bottom.
Tates Creek threatened again in the top of the sixth, evening the game with a bases-loaded walk. The Commodores left the bases loaded from there, though, opening the window for Sottile's hero shot.
"Nothing's given in this district. It's the toughest district in the state," Brooks said. "Any time you can go out and get a chance to compete and get a win, it's a big-time thing for your program."
The Commodores, missing the 11th Region tournament for the fourth straight season, finished 18-11.