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Stingy Mustangs reach 2nd final

By Daniel Paullingdpaulling@paducahsun.com

When he needs a starting pitcher, Geno Miller doesn't need to look far.

The McCracken County baseball coach can turn to Josh Scheer. Or Cole Womack. Or Preston Frommeyer. Or Keegan Breese. Those are just the pitchers who finished the regular season with an ERA under 2.00 and who threw at least 24 innings.

"We've got a solid pitching staff," Miller said of a group that posted a 1.82 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP and 241 strikeouts over 227 regular-season innings. "We're in great shape."

On Monday, Scheer pitched the latest gem. He allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings to earn the win in McCracken's 3-1 Second District first-round game against Paducah Tilghman at St. Mary High. The Mustangs play St. Mary for the Second District championship at St. Mary tonight at 7.

The Mustangs (27-8) advanced because of their ace. Well, at least one of them.

Scheer allowed just one run, a fifth-inning solo home run to Blue Tornado leadoff hitter Miles Butler. Blame Butler's first homer of the season on Scheer just leaving a pitch up and in.

Scheer then allowed a two-out single before inducing a flyout to end the Tilghman threat.

"I've always learned if you sit back and focus on the pitch before, you're never going to move on or get the next pitch," Scheer said. "If you move on, you get something better."

The right-hander struck out 11 and threw 95 pitches over six innings. A two-out Nick Shumaker single chased him in the seventh, but Cole Womack struck out Jeremiah White for the save.

The Mustangs responded to Butler's home run in the bottom of the fifth. Austin Mourad evened the score at 1 with a sacrifice fly, and Nathan Williams doubled home Womack for the 2-1 lead.

The outburst comes after Mustangs reached third with two outs in each of the first four innings but didn't score.

"You don't want your kids to press because you have to give (Tilghman starting pitcher Jacob) Underhill credit," Miller said. "He made some big pitches in big spots. I don't think we took out-of-control swings. You just keep hoping, keep plugging, and we'll scratch something across."

Breese added an RBI single in the seventh for the final margin.

The Blue Tornado finish 21-9, losing a single-digit number of games for the second consecutive season. They didn't lose fewer than 10 games from 2003 to 2012.

The victory gives the Mustangs a chance to win the Second District tournament against St. Mary, which they went 1-1 against this season. But, thanks to Scheer, they've already accomplished an important feat in receiving a berth into the First Region tournament.

"You want to go into the regional tournament as district champion, but when you have three teams of this quality, you just want to get in," Miller said. "I haven't thought one thing about who's pitching (against St. Mary). We wanted to get this one. This was the big one."

Paducah Tilghman 000 010 0 1 5 2

McCracken County 000 021 x 3 6 0

Underhill and Armstrong; Scheer, Womack (7) and Schneider.

WP: Scheer; LP: Underhill.

2B: McC-Williams. 3B: none. HR: PT-Butler. Multiple hitters: PT-Butler 2-4 (RBI), Shumaker 3-3.

Call Daniel Paulling, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8662, or follow on Twitter @DanielPaulling.

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