MURFREESBORO – Given a nine-run second inning and a one-hit, mercy-rule shortened performance against Murfreesboro Central, Wednesday morning went about as well as could be hoped for the Lexington baseball team.
The Tigers saved their season with that loser’s bracket win, but they couldn’t preserve it in the evening as they lost 8-3 to Knoxville Catholic.
Lexington (24-16) improved upon last year’s state tournament appearance in which the team lost both its games, but sloppy defense in Wednesday’s nightcap made for a disappointing end to the season.
The Tigers made several errors behind pitcher Mikey Draeger, who generally pitches to contact, thus keeping him on the mound longer than he should have been.
“We tried to do too much. We just kind of got out of our game, just tried to do a little bit too much,” Lexington coach Adam Harrington said. “We tried to make some things happen where we should have just let the plays evolve, and it hurt us pretty bad offensively and defensively.”
Adam Aucker scored once in the first inning for Knoxville Catholic, but Draeger stranded runners on second and third with a strikeout looking and a groundout.
Lexington got a two-out single from Evan Gilliam and an RBI double to right center from Ethan Small that was just short of a homer. But previous game’s offense never materialized.
Draeger singled twice, and Gilliam singled twice and also walked. Small doubled and singled, and Heath Essary singled and walked.
Catholic, meanwhile, scored three times in the second inning, once in the fourth and twice in the fifth.
“We anticipated we were going to have to score some runs, but [Draeger] did his job,” Harrington said.
Freshman Raleigh Odle pitched the final two innings, allowing one run. Seventh-inning RBI singles from Gilliam and Small, socring Tyler Anderson and Tucker White, were not enough.
Knoxville Catholic left-hander Mike Fitzgerald pitched all seven innings, striking out five Tigers.
Earlier in the day, Lexington eliminated Murfreesboro Central 12-0 in five innings. Essary had two RBI in that game. Anderson, White, Small, Gilliam, Colin Meyer and Darrius Bomer each had one. Ryne Odle and Essary each scored twice.
“It’s always good to get a win up here,” Harrington said. “We return seven starters, so we look forward to next year and we feel like we’ve got another team that can come back up here and compete.”
Craig Thomas, 425-9634