The LaRue County Hawks advanced to the 18th District Championship game with an 8-2 win over the Caverna Colonels Monday night.
The Hawks, with home field advantage, improved their record to 26-9 while Caverna fell to 1-30. Senior Jesse Johnson, sporting a Mohawk, had the win for the Hawks.
The game was delayed for 30 minutes due to lightning during the second inning.
Caverna, which has been blanked nine times this season, scored two runs in the first inning after two back-to-back singles.
LaRue’s head coach, Chris Price, said Caverna “came out hitting and scored a couple of runs.” Defensively, the team “made a lot of plays they usually don’t.”
In their previous meetings this season, the Hawks won 16-1 and 11-0, both in five innings.
Monday night, the Hawks “stuck to the basics, laying down the bunt when we had to, running the bases …” Price said. “We didn’t panic and Jesse settled down after the second inning.”
Johnson struck out 10 batters and allowed five hits.
The Hawks got on the scoreboard in the second inning after senior Slade Owens hit a single and advanced to third on a fielder’s error. Senior Wesley Kessinger reached base on an error and Owens was safe at home.
The Colonels couldn’t get their offense started with three up, three down in the second and third innings.
In the bottom of the third, the Hawks scored two runs to take the lead. Seniors Stephen Carpenter and Kyle Sheeran reached base after being hit by pitches. Both scored on sacrifice flies by Johnson and Kyle Meredith.
The Hawks scored again in the fourth inning when senior Trevor Skaggs hit a single, stole a base and reached home on Sheeran’s sacrifice fly.
LaRue scored two more in the fifth inning. Courtesy runner Austin Hinton scored on a fielder’s error. Designated hitter Cole Hughes reached first on a bunt while Kessinger scored.
Johnson walked one batter in the sixth inning but it turned into a setup for a nice double play. Eric Wykoff for Caverna grounded out to Johnson who threw the runner out at second. Kessinger at second threw out the runner on first.
Caverna put another player on base due to an error but Johnson struck out the next batter.
The Hawks scored their final two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Sheeran walked, stole second and advanced to third on Johnson’s single. Sheeran scored on Meredith’s sacrifice fly. Johnson scored on Owens’ double.
Caverna’s last at-bats ended with two strikeouts and a fly ball caught by Sheeran.
LaRue plays Green County at 6 p.m. Wednesday for the District championship at Hawk Field. Green (18-16) advanced with a decisive 12-0 win in five innings over Hart County (12-23).
If the Hawks win, it will be their 11th straight district championship. They’ve already earned a berth in the 5th Region Tournament.