LANGLEY Lawrence County advanced to the semi-state round of the state baseball tournament with a convincing 12-7 victory over Johnson Central on Tuesday night.
Both teams entered the 15th Region Tournament undefeated in region play, dominating opponents throughout the regular season. They heavyweights came together for the first time this season.
Lawrence County’s Bryce Blevins and Johnson Central’s Ryley Preece comprised the starting pitching matchup. Both teams came in with several players with multiple home runs on the year. Something had to give. It was the bats of Lawrence County that won the night.
The Bulldogs scored 12 runs off of 12 hits, including two homers in the same inning.
Juniors C.J. Fairchild and Jackson Feltner took a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the third inning and increased it to 10-1 with two swings of the bat. Bryce Blevins added an RBI single to score Tyler Maynard, who had reached on a hit-by-pitch, to make the score 11-1. Fairchild’s home run to left field drove in three runs — the shot hit the rock facing beyond the fence. That blast was Fairchild’s ninth homer of the season.
Austin Roe draw a walk and that brought Feltner to the plate. Feltner crushed a two-run bomb to left, his state-best 14th of the year.
In all, the Bulldogs sent 11 batters to the plate in the third, scoring six two-out runs on three hits.
Johnson Central (32-6) did show some fight as it crossed the plate four times in the top of the fourth — two were from homers by Grant Davis and Preece. That cut the lead to 11-5.
The Bulldogs (35-5) added one more run in the bottom of the fourth. Fairchild hit a two-out single up the middle. He stole second and third bases, eventually scoring on an Roe RBI single. Roe finished with three RBIs, part of what landed him on the 15th Region All-Tournament team. Joining him were Bryce Blevins, Jackson Feltner, Lucas Maynard and C.J. Fairchild.
Junior Bulldog Tyler Maynard was named the 15th Region MVP for his efforts. In the finals, Maynard went 3 for 3 with two doubles, two runs, a walk and a stolen base. He was also the 15th Region Player of the Year in soccer and 58th District Player of the Year in basketball.
“Before I say anything, I want to thank the coaching staff, my dad and most of all the man upstairs for giving me the ability and the opportunities that I’ve had,” Tyler Maynard said. “This win means a lot to us. This is what we have worked all offseason for and it paid off. I’ve been hot at the plate so I’m going up there with a lot of confidence. The ball is finding gaps and I trust the guys behind me to knock me in.”
Said Lawrence County coach Travis Feltner: “I want to thank God from the bottom of my heart. He has given us something special here. We have a wonderful group from the administration to the kids. ... To win a regional championship is about our players. It’s not about me or any of the other coaches. It’s about our players. They are the ones we ask to sacrifice and commit.”
Lawrence County will face Rowan County in Semi-State 8 on Saturday at noon at Morehead State University. The Vikings (38-3) have won 30 straight games, including the 16th Region finals over Ashland on Tuesday.