By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
When the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association’s preseason poll was released in March, Madison Central wasn’t ranked.
The Indians received a few votes, but not enough to crack the Top 25.
At the time, there weren’t really any big expectations for a team with just four seniors and a lineup full of sophomores and juniors.
“We always say that the rankings are overrated,” Central coach Steve Roof said.
And the Indians proved all season that they were, indeed, underrated.
Central picked up 29 victories and came up just one game short of reaching the KHSAA State Tournament. The Indians fell to No. 1 Tates Creek, 2-1, Friday in the championship game of the 11th Region Tournament at Western Hills High School.
The Commodores (33-6-1) got both their runs in the fourth inning and got a complete-game victory from Tanner Hart.
Central (29-9) had just four hits, but did have the tying run on base in the seventh inning.
“This group thought they could win it,” Roof said. “From day one, they really gelled together as a team. They competed. The goal each time was to win the game. I thought the coaching staff did a great job getting them ready each day.”
The championship game got under way on Thursday, but was postponed a day when a storm swept into Frankfort.
When play resumed on Friday, the Commodores had the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the second inning.
Junior Alex Georgel started the game, but senior Austin Templeton took over when action resumed on Friday. He got Hart to fly out to center to end the inning on his first pitch.
Central pitchers worked out of jams in each of the first three innings, leaving eight runners on base. Creek finally broke through in the fourth. A single, double, fielder’s choice and a walk loaded the bases.
The Commodores got both their runs on back-to-back wild pitches.
The Indians used four pitchers on Friday after the game resumed — Templeton, Kyle Kelsey, Zach Voll and Jeremy Lakes.
“We were going to do whatever we had to do to keep them off-balance and hold them in each inning,” Roof said.
Lakes went the final 2 1/3 innings, allowing one hit and one walk.
Central got a run back in the fifth. Third baseman Nick Kavanaugh doubled to right, moved up to third on a groundout by Joseph Holbrook and scored on a throwing error by the catcher.
Cory Mullins walked and Lakes reach on a fielder’s choice, but the Indians had two runners thrown out on the bases in the inning.
“We just ran out of time,” Roof said. “I thought we competed for seven innings. We hit the ball hard against a great pitcher. They just made the plays in the end.”
The Indians put together one last rally.
In the seventh, senior Jonah Kelsey singled to put the tying run on base. But, Kavanaugh grounded into a double play to end the game.
Hart finished with seven strikeouts and just one walk.
Five Central pitchers allowed eight hits.
“I’m really proud of them,” Roof said. “They did everything we asked. We just came up a little short. They bowed their necks so many times. They weren’t afraid.”
Following the game, the 11th Region All-Tournament Team was announced. Berea Community senior Gabe Long was named to the team along with Central’s Ben Morin, Holbrook and Lakes.