Trinity came into the KHSAA State Baseball Tournament as the presumptive favorite to win the title. They showed people why on Thursday.
The Shamrocks put away their quarterfinal opponent Hazard 12-1 in six, stress-free innings to advance to the state semifinals. Trinity did what it has done to many this season, as it scored multiple runs in four of the six innings played and piled up 12 total hits.
“We got hits in the bottom of the order today, which was huge, and we’ve done it all year long hitting up and down the order,” Shamrocks Coach Richard Arnold said. “That’s what wins big games so that helped us a lot, getting four or five hits in the bottom of the order.”
Mr. Baseball and University of Louisville commit Daylen Lile led the offense with a pair of hits, one of which was a two-run homer in the fourth inning that gave Trinity an 8-1 lead. Austin Taylor also hit a home run — a two-run shot over the left-field wall at Lexington Legends Ballpark that brought in the game’s initial runs.
“When I rounded third base and my coach told me keep going, I was like, ‘What? What do you mean?’ He was like, ‘It went over’ and I was like, ‘Oh wow,’ because I did not think it was going over. I was just thinking triple the whole time,” Lile said about his home run.
Trinity scored two more runs in the third and six runs in the fourth, featuring Lile’s home run, to comfortably take a large lead. It scored two more runs in the sixth, which pushed the Shamrocks’ lead over the 10-run mark to force the mercy rule.
“It puts our confidence through the roof. Our confidence level just continues to keep going because we’re just showing who Trinity is and we’re just playing Trinity baseball,” Lile said.
Freshman Jake Schweitzer made his first career start for the Shamrocks and pitched a near-flawless game in three innings, giving up only two hits and Hazard’s lone run while striking out four.
Schweitzer came into the game with a total of 5 2/3 innings pitched this season and has progressively proven to Arnold that he is capable of delivering in the big moment.
“He’s been really good. He’s been in a couple big situations even though he only has a few innings but if you saw him tonight, you know he’s a number one caliber type pitcher,” Arnold said. “We didn’t take Hazard for granted, that’s a kid that’s just gotten better and better all year and he’s learned our system.”
Jarrett Napier started for the Bulldogs and took most of the brunt from the Shamrocks, giving up eight hits, eight runs and one walk while striking out two in three and one-third innings pitched.
The Shamrocks will face Lyon County for a spot in the state championship game as a result of their win. Lyon earned its trip to the semifinals with a 4-2 victory over Whitley County in the first game Thursday.
“It means a lot but like I just told the guys, we’re not done,” Lyon Coach Ricky Baker said. “We came here not to just come here and say we’ve been to the state tournament. We came here to compete with any team they put in front of us and try to bring home the title and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
The Lyons jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning off a two-run single from Christian O’Daniel. Whitley evened the score the next inning but the Lyons responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third to give them the lead for good.
Austin Long pitched a complete game for Lyon and only gave up four hits, two runs and one walk while striking out eight against a team that ranked top-20 statewide in team batting average, hits, doubles, triples and RBI. Long admitted to feeling the pressure of his school’s first appearance at the state tournament in the initial innings but eventually settled down to control the game.
“I had one little struggle inning where they scored two. I don’t think they should’ve scored that many against me but after that I started getting more and more K’s and that made me feel a little bit better,” Long said.
For the Colonels, their season ends with a 31-10 record after winning the 13th Region title for the first time in school history. They will bring back their entire roster next season with sights set on a better finish.
“I normally don’t like talking about next year when there’s a group of seniors that just lost their last game but it’s nice to be able to talk about next year and be able to build off of this year,” Colonels Coach Jeremy Shope said. “Just so proud of them to make history like they’ve done, win their first regional championship, win their semi-state game and then compete in the final eight.”
At Lexington Legends Ballpark
Danville 3, Lafayette 0
McCracken Co. 13, Collins 2
Lyon Co. 4, Whitley Co. 2
Trinity 12, Hazard 1
5 p.m.: Danville vs. McCracken Co.
8:30 p.m.: Lyon Co. vs. Trinity
7 p.m.: Championship game