Madison Central Coach Steve Roof could not be happier to soon dye a blue mohawk into his hair.
The Indians' players all dyed a strip in the middle part of their hair blue — some thicker than others — as a team-bonding exercise during the preseason. Roof told his players that he'd put one in his own hair if Central made it to the state tournament.
Bring on the blue hair: Madison Central knocked out Scott County, 8-6, in the 11th Region baseball tournament finals Sunday at Woodford County Park. The Indians, as a result, qualified for the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA State Baseball Tournament, where they'll meet 4th Region champion Bowling Green at 8:30 p.m. Friday, the final game of the first round.
Scott County, the two-time defending region champion who was ranked second in the final coaches' poll at the end of the regular season, never led. The Cardinals had defeated the Indians, 5-1, in Georgetown earlier this year but had a tough time plating baserunners all the way until their final at-bat.
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Brothers Bryce and Cameron Travis pitched most of the way for Madison Central, ranked seventh in the final poll. Bryce went two and 2/3 innings before Cameron, his older brother, came on for the final out of that inning and pitched scoreless frames in the fourth, fifth and sixth before allowing a leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh. Lucas Myers, a junior who nearly threw a no-hitter in Central's opening-round victory over Bryan Station on Monday, came on try to record the final three outs for the Indians.
Myers got the first two but Scott County rallied for five two-out runs to chase him off. Senior James Goble relieved him for the final out, a chopper to the shortstop that reached first base without issue.
Madison Central's early barrage — it scored three runs in the first inning — allowed it to put the pressure on Scott County from the get-go and made that last gasp a little easier to stave off.
"That definitely set the tone," said junior Ben Snapp, who went 3-for-4 with three RBI. "We know that Scott County's a good team and we had to jump on 'em early because we were the visitors (on the scoreboard). We just wanted to get ahead and really back our pitchers up and let them do what they do best."
Snapp brought in Central's first run and Bryce Travis added two more on a single in the first. Central added two more in the third on a Snapp triple and a suicide squeeze by Devin Hukill.
Sam Sutton, Scott County's starting pitcher, hit a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the third before the Indians tacked on a run in the fourth via a Trey Eden single. Central scored two in the seventh — a double by Snapp and a single by Jeremy Cox, who hit the decisive home run in Central's 4-2 semifinals win on Saturday night — before Scott County made its rally bid.
"I thought we had some great approaches at the plate and our pitching and defense kept us in there," Roof said.
The team as a good-luck ritual in its Saturday victory ripped the head off of one of the stuffed snakes it won at GattiTown last weekend. Their other stuffed snake fared better on Sunday.
Roof was asked how long he'll let his team celebrate before it starts planning for Bowling Green.
"Oh, we're gonna celebrate tonight definitely and just have fun and enjoy the moment," Roof said. "It's high school and it goes by so fast. One team, one family's been our goal all year. It's just a bunch of brothers that love each other and we're gonna let 'em enjoy it."
And he'll enjoy his next trip to the salon.