Neither rain, nor lightning, nor a long weather delay shall keep Tates Creek pitcher Caleb Johnson from dominating a baseball game.
Johnson, a senior right-hander, was terrific in leading the host Commodores to a 3-1 victory over Lexington Catholic in the 43rd District semifinals Wednesday night.
It didn't bother Johnson at all when the game was suspended for almost two hours because of storms in the bottom of the third inning.
In fact, he thought the interruption helped him.
"I think I came out the first couple innings trying to overthrow," he said. "The rain delay helped settle my mind. After that I just focused on getting down in the zone and getting people out."
Before play was halted, Johnson had given up one hit, a solo homer by Evan Fraliex in the second that put Lexington Catholic up 1-0.
Tates Creek tied it in the bottom of the second. Jordan Fucci doubled and Austin Younce singled him in.
The weather turned nasty in the bottom of the third just after the Commodores' JaVon Shelby had drawn a one-out walk. Lightning and heavy rains came, the tarp was pulled onto the field, and everybody wondered if the game would resume.
It finally did, and Tates Creek was ready to roll.
"After the rain it was like a brand new beginning," Jordan Fucci said. "But then we're always ready to play."
Blake Rose drew another walk from Knights starter Fraliex, and he and Shelby moved up a base on a wild pitch. After Fraliex got a strikeout, Fucci delivered another clutch two-out double, this one down the right-field line that chased home Shelby and Rose to make it 3-1.
"It was good to see the big left-hander swing the bat like that," Coach Dom Fucci said of his son.
Johnson was happy to get the lead, too.
"It definitely helped the chemistry in the dugout," he said. "Everybody was hyped and getting up. That really helped me."
Johnson retired 12 of the last 14 batters he faced, including seven strikeouts. The only hit he surrendered was an infield single by Griffin Neuer. He finished with a two-hitter, 10 strikeouts and one walk to improve his record to 8-0 this season.
"I felt those were the best five innings I've thrown all year after the rain delay," said Johnson, who has committed to Eastern Kentucky.
Dom Fucci said he was surprised Johnson was so sharp after the long delay.
"He just pitched a whale of a game for us."
Lexington Catholic Coach Taylor Brooks, whose team had never gone against Johnson before, was impressed.
"That's a lot of adversity to face, a long delay like that, but he came out and was extremely good. He kept us at bay.
"We thought we could score more than one run on him but it didn't happen.
"Credit Tates Creek. They're an extremely good team, senior-dominated, and they beat us in a classic 43rd District game."
The Commodores, riding a 15-game winning streak, will take on Lafayette in the district finals Thursday at 7. Both teams will advance to the 11th Region tournament at Madison Central next week.
TATES CREEK 3, LEXINGTON CATHOLIC 1
Lexington Catholic 010 000 0—1 2 0
Tates Creek 012 000 x —3 6 0
Evan Fraliex, Ben Coates (5) and Riley Jackson. Caleb Johnson and Nathan Black. HR--Fraliex (LC). 2B--Jordan Fucci (TC), 2.
Records—Lexington Catholic 27-8; Tates Creek 29-6