LEXINGTON - Deron McDonald had just completed his last game as Franklin County’s baseball coach, but that wasn’t what was on his mind.
"It hasn’t sunk in yet," he said.
What was on his mind was the performance of his team in the first round of the 11th Region Tournament.
“Our kids battled the whole game,” said McDonald, whose Flyers lost to top-ranked Lexington Catholic 9-0 Monday at Tates Creek High School.
“That game could have ended with the (mercy) run rule with their No. 1 pitcher on the mound.”
But that didn’t happen.
The Knights (32-7) scratched a run across in the first inning, added two more in the third and took control of the game with four more runs in the third for a 7-0 lead.
FCHS (28-10-1) was held hitless until the sixth inning.
“Great pitching, great hitting, great defense,” McDonald said. “They’re good all the way around.
“They’re the best team we’ve played all year, and we’ve played quite a few good teams. They’re solid everywhere.”
A walk, a groundout to first and a single from Tyler Jackson put Lexington Catholic up 1-0 at the end of the first inning.
The Knights had four hits – a double by Nick Chafin and singles by Trey Miller, Riley Jackson and Will Hurt – to go ahead 3-0 in the second.
In the third inning a walk, a single by Evan Fraliex and a hit batsman loaded the bases for Robert Waller, who came through with a three-run triple for LCHS. He later scored on a double play.
Those would be the Knights’ last runs until the sixth inning.
“I’m really proud of my guys,” McDonald said. “Nick (Cumpston) pitched with his heart. He didn’t have his normal stuff, but he tried to grind it out.
“Brandon (Smither) came in and pitched pretty good, but there’s not a whole lot you can do with those kids.”
Lexington Catholic’s Zach Haynes, who will be pitching at Indiana University next year, threw four no-hit innings. He hasn’t given up a hit in the last nine innings he’s pitched, going back to the 43rd District semifinal against Tates Creek.
The Knights used three different pitchers in the last three innings – Tom Bahanan in the fifth, Griffin Neuer in the sixth, and Corey Wells in the seventh.
The Flyers’ best chance to score came in the sixth when Nick Redmon was hit by a pitch and singles by Zach Arnold and Conner Brown – FCHS’ first hits of the day – loaded the bases with one out.
A double play ended the threat.
Lexington Catholic closed out the scoring in the sixth when Waller hit a two-run double, giving him five runs batted in for the game.
The Knights had 12 hits, led by Waller with a triple, double and single. They play Bryan Station today at 5:30 p.m. in the semifinals. BSHS defeated Model 7-4 Monday.
Cumpston pitched the first three innings for FCHS, and Smither finished the game in relief.
“I’m proud of our kids,” McDonald said. “This could have easily gotten away from us. Brandon came in and kept them to two more runs.
“They had opportunities to score more, but our kids made plays defensively. They battled the whole game. They played hard with 100 percent effort; they were focused and ready to go.”
The Flyers finished with three hits – singles by Arnold, Brown and David Current.
FCHS graduates four seniors off this year’s team – Arnold, Redmon, Logan Crum and Eric Meyer.