Down five runs in the third inning, Lafayette junior Shane Anderson was sure that his team had little chance at claiming a fourth straight district championship.
"I was pretty convinced we were going to lose," said Anderson, a reliever, just minutes after he closed out his team's unlikely 15-13 comeback win over Lexington Catholic on Thursday night in the 43rd District Tournament title game at Tates Creek.
The Generals overcame two separate five-run deficits in a game that turned into an offensive marathon wrought with defensive stumbles.
Lafayette made three errors, surrendered 10 hits, allowed 13 runs and walked 14 batters in seven innings — yet still overcame all odds to be crowned district champion for a historically unlikely fourth straight year.
Head coach Chris Langston said after one meeting early in the game, the team never wavered.
"It's a roller coaster. It's going to go up and down. You just have to get off the ride in the end," Langston said he told his team. "They did that so I'm proud of them."
Sammy Tackett, Lafayette's sophomore shortstop who had two runs, four hits and five RBI, said the win was "never" out of reach.
"We can beat anybody when our team's on," said Tackett who laid down an important bunt in a pivotal sixth-inning suicide squeeze that would give the Generals their first and only go-ahead run of the game. Lafayette would score one more run that inning on a passed ball.
"It was the perfect opportunity and Sammy did it perfectly," Langston said.
In a game that seemed to feature more base runners than outs, Anderson defended the Generals' small lead from the mound. In a tense final frame, Catholic loaded the bases with just one out. But Anderson struck out one batter and coaxed another into a routine grounder to first base for the final out.
The Knights' offense never really seemed to slow down. They clubbed two solo home runs, but they were haunted by several missed opportunities as they left 13 runners on base.
Despite the loss, Lexington Catholic still has a berth in next week's 11th Region Tournament, but for Lafayette, this win means more than just better seeding. The Generals prepared to win a fourth straight district championship all year.
For the Lafayette seniors who have now won their district in every year of high school, Thursday's win is tremendous.
"It means everything to (the seniors)," Tackett said. "That's all we've talked about since tryouts, really."
At the beginning of the season, the team came into the locker room and wrote down their goals. At the very top, they wrote "four in a row," and that goal has kept them focused, Langston said.
"When we lose our focus, we didn't have a good practice," Langston said. "I'd bring them together and say, 'What was the first goal?' And they'd always say 'four in a row.'"