LEXINGTON – By knocking off Louisville Trinity, 6-5, on a walk-off sacrifice fly from Grant Davis, McCracken County did on Saturday what no other Mustangs team had ever done, and what no First Region team since the 1979 Murray Tigers did.
It punched a ticket to the KHSAA state championship baseball game.
Originally scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, the title bout – against Lexington Tates Creek – was postponed to noon Sunday, as a result of an ongoing back-and-forth with Mother Nature, which has deluged much of Kentucky with rain the last several days.
“I’d been pretty hot all game,” said Davis, who was 2-for-3 and drove in three runs, including the game-winner, on his approach in what was the Mustangs’ biggest at-bat of its six-year history. “I just went up there and did my thing.”
After allowing a run in the top of the first, McCracken struck back – scoring four times.
Ben Higdon, Elijah Wheat and Davis – scoring Higdon – each singled, consecutively, to start the bottom of the first.
Logan Verble followed with an RBI double, scoring Wheat.
Three batters later, Brandon Dodd grounded into a run-scoring fielder’s choice, before Reese Hutchins singled in Verble to make it 4-1.
Trinity came back back over the next three innings, before a three-run fourth put the Shamrocks ahead 5-4.
Davis smacked an RBI double with one out in the bottom of the fourth, tying it at 5, before his game-winning fly ball to center field.
Garrett Crabtree was crucial for the Mustangs out of the bullpen, retiring 11 of the 12 batters he faced in 3 1/3 innings, with three strikeouts to go with a pair of walks.
“There are just so many heroes for us,” McCracken coach Geno Miller said. “Crabtree comes in and just basically doesn’t give up anything from that point. We just kept clawing and overcoming adversity.”
Another group of Miller’s heroes was the top of the order – Higdon, Wheat and Davis – who combined to go 8-for-10 with Davis’ three RBI.
The rain may also prove to be a blessing in disguise for the Mustangs.
Without co-ace Jacob Ehling available on Saturday, after his pitch count in Thursday’s win over Rowan County was such that he had to sit for three calendar days, the Mustangs went with senior right-hander Dylan Schneider, who got the last out in that game.
Trinity 101 300 0 5 9 2
McCracken County 400 100 1 6 14 4
Thompson, Murphy (4th), Brunstetter (5th) and Perry. Schneider, Crabtree (4th) and Hutchins.
WP: Crabtree. LP: Brunstetter.
2B: MC- Davis, Verble; TRI- Crane 2. 3B: None. HR: None. Top hitters: MC- Higdon 3-4, Wheat 3-3, Davis 2-3; TRI- Lile 3-4, Crane 3-4. RECORDS: MC: 33-7; TRI: 35-6.
Lexington Tates Creek 5, Breckenridge County 1
McCracken County 6, Louisville Trinity 5
Sunday’s game (Central time)
McCracken County vs. Lexington Tates Creek, noon.
First Region baseball teams to reach championship game since 1940
2019: McCracken County (TBD)
1979 Murray (Runner-up)
1974: Paducah Tilghman (Runner-up)
1973: Reidland (Runner-up)
1970: Paducah Tilghman (Runner-up)
1963: Lone Oak (Runner-up)
1960: Paducah Tilghman (State champion)
1956: Murray (Runner-up)