It’s one tournament down, two to go for high school baseball teams hoping for more postseason glory.
District champions have been crowned and runner-ups advanced to this weekend’s loaded 11th Region baseball tournament, but there’s no more room for error in its single-elimination format that will send only one team on to state.
The 11th features four top-25 teams according to the Kentucky Prep Baseball Report power rankings — No. 7 Madison Central, No. 9 Lafayette, No. 10 Lexington Christian and No. 11 Frederick Douglass — although the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s regular season RPI standings puts them in a slightly different order. Still, there are a number of dangerous programs looking to play spoiler.
Coaches must decide how to use their top pitchers for maximum effect in order to survive and advance.
“Everybody’s got somebody that can beat anybody,” said Lafayette Coach Chris Langston, whose teams have won five of the last six 43rd District titles but last went to state in 2004. “Everybody’s got that one pitcher that can beat anybody on any day. And that’s what makes it fun.
“In college, they get to play two out of three or double-elimination. Here, you’ve got to face everybody’s best and you have to make something happen.”
In addition to drawing teams for the bracket Wednesday morning, the 11th Region coaches voted on some honors with Lafayette’s Micah Cowen earning player of the year. Sayre’s Kevin Clary was named coach of the year. Newcomer coach of the year went to Great Crossing’s Greg Stratton with Henry Clay’s Alex Shapiro named assistant coach of the year.
Region play begins Saturday at each district champion’s home field with semifinals Sunday and the championship on Monday at Lexington Catholic.
Here’s a look at how the hopefuls stack up and the first-round pairings and rankings according to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s regular season RPI standings, which rate every team.
Lexington Christian (20-7) at Madison Central (29-8), 1 p.m. Saturday.
RPI ratings: Eagles — No. 11 (.64259); Indians — No. 13 (.63994).
Lexington Christian: The Eagles have four wins over top-25 teams, including No. 4 Danville and No. 13 Madison Central thanks to a pitching rotation that features Louisville commit Jaxson Davis (4-2, 1.97 ERA) and College of Wooster commit Josh Livengood (4-1, 2.05 ERA). Livengood got the win over the Indians on April 27 boosted by an offense that produced 10 runs. Junior Cole Ginter has a .463 average and leads seven Eagles hitters batting over .300. Cade Gudalis, a Kentucky Wesleyan commit, hits .325 and leads LCA with 26 RBI and four home runs.
Madison Central: The Indians have some big-time wins over the state’s top programs, too, including victories over No. 10 Lafayette and No. 14 St. Xavier and have their own Louisville commit with senior shortstop Brandon Anderson, hitting .387 with a team high five home runs and 36 RBI. Uncommitted junior Hayden Robbins leads the 44th District champions with a .395 average. Bradley Poynter tops the pitching staff with an 8-0 record and 1.83 ERA followed by Dawson Hall’s 6-1 mark with a 1.12 ERA. Hall is among five Indians players who’ve committed to continue their careers at the community college level.
Other first-round games
Frederick Douglass (27-8) at Great Crossing (19-11), 6 p.m. Saturday.
RPI ratings: Broncos — No. 8 (.64589); Warhawks — No. 79 (.55248).
Douglass: The Broncos have three Division I baseball commits and more no doubt on the way. Sophomore Thomas Howard (Louisville) is the staff ace with a 90-plus fastball, 7-1 record, 2.56 ERA and 83 strikeouts. Utility man Julius Scearce (Kentucky) is second on the team in runs scored and leads the team in homers (four) and walks (17). Gavin Faulkner (Eastern Kentucky) has a 4-1 record and 1.89 ERA to go along with a .358 batting average. Dane Key, who has more than 20 college offers as one of the nation’s top wide receivers, leads the team in hitting (.400), runs (34) and stolen bases. Fellow footballer Ty Bryant averages .333. RJ Parks has a .344 average and a team-high 24 RBI.
Great Crossing: The Warhawks have been playing without Arkansas commit Jake Faherty (hamstring) for the last few weeks, but rolled to the program’s first 41st District title in its first attempt. Seth Benner, a Cumberlands commit, ranks as one of the best hitters in the state with a .518 average, seven home runs and 39 RBI. No one in the Warhawks regular order hits less than .295. Kentucky Christian commit Zachary Lyons hits .348. On the mound, Cole Traylor has a 7-3 record with a 3.74 ERA. Logan Adkins (4-1, 3.69 ERA) got the start in their district finals victory.
Franklin County (9-21) at Sayre (16-11), 1 p.m. Saturday.
RPI ratings: Flyers — No. 171 (.43046); Spartans — No. 74 (.55319)
Franklin County: The Flyers have one of the top hitters in the state in junior Tennessee commit Bennett Myers, who boasts a .518 average with 32 RBI and five homers. Austin Presley leads the pitching staff with a 5-4 record and 3.41 ERA. Brady Hockensmith is second on the team in hits (29) and batting average (.312).
Sayre: The Spartans knocked off No. 8 Frederick Douglass for the program’s first district title on Monday and have one of the premier pitchers in Kentucky. Raymond Saatman, a sophomore, has been surpassing 90 mph with his fastball this spring and leads the team with a 5-4 record, 1.43 ERA and 77 strikeouts. He also is among the team’s leading hitters with a .352 average. Sayre has four batters averaging above .300 led by Charlie Slabaugh at .368. Addison Stockham (3-3, 4.375 ERA) has proved to be a capable No. 2 hurler highlighted by his complete game win over Douglass in the 42nd finals.
Madison Southern (7-22) at Lafayette (30-7), 1 p.m. Saturday.
RPI ratings: Eagles — No. 182 (.41921); Generals — No. 10 (.64566)
Madison Southern: With only seven wins on the season, a young Eagles team (only two seniors) has its work cut out against Lafayette. The stats show a team with some hitters led by Corey Causey (.380), Cannon Peercy (.395), Kaden Carrwhite (.338) and Drew Hess (.311.) The team’s ERA is recorded at 7.97. John Hayes leads the staff with a 2-3 mark.
Lafayette: The Generals don’t have the flashy Division I recruits of some of the other contenders, but results don’t lie. The 43rd District champs have two pitchers ranked in the top 15 in ERA with Transylvania commit Conner Arnold (6-1, 0.64) and Centre commit Micah Cowen (8-1, 0.81). Lafayette smashed six home runs in two district tournament games and has seven regulars hitting .292 or better, led by Cowen’s .429 average with 39 RBI. Spalding University commit Ethan Tuttle hits .382 and Virginia Wesleyan commit Jack Harris hits .310.
SUNDAY’S 11TH REGION SEMIFINALS
At Lexington Catholic
2 p.m.: Sayre-Franklin County winner vs. Lafayette-Madison Southern winner
6 p.m.: Madison Central-Lexington Christian winner vs. Great Crossing Frederick Douglass winner
MONDAY’S 11TH REGION FINALS
At Lexington Catholic
6 p.m.: Championship game
June 7-12: Semi-state games at various sites
June 16-19: Quarterfinals, semis and finals at Lexington Legends Field
Complete statewide schedule online: https://bit.ly/3cdg2mh