The quest for the Lower State championship, and a berth in the state championship series, is now down to just three teams.
On Wednesday, Lexington will travel across town to take on arch-rival White Knoll High in an elimination game for the right to face Ashley Ridge again in a bid for the Lower State championship. The Foxes (28-1) defeated White Knoll on Saturday and, to advance to the state championship game, either White Knoll (19-5) or Lexington (26-3) will have to beat Ashley Ridge twice -- or go home.
The Wildcats trailed the Foxes the entire game, tying the score briefly in the fourth inning. Both teams were on a hot 15-game winning streak, but walks, errors, and a poor hitting night doomed the Wildcats, one of the nation's top teams.
Trailing just 2-0 entering the fourth inning, Lexington's Nick Ciuffo led off with a single and Colin Steagall belted a two-run homer that tied the game at 2-all. Ashley Ridge answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 6-2 lead. The Swamp Foxes scored three runs in the fifth and another run in the sixth to seal the win.
Austin Livingston pitched a complete-game four-hitter and struck out eight to pick up the win for Ashley Ridge.
"I don't think they were that good," Wildcats' coach Brian Hucks told Lexington's WLXM-107.9 radio after the game. "I think we were just that bad.... The game just kind of spiraled out of control."
The loss was particularly galling to the Wildcats, who have dedicated their championship run to Kennedy Branham, a Lexington Middle School 7th-grader battling brain cancer and undergoing chemotherapy.
"I told the guys, as bad as we were tonight, we let a 13-year-old girl down," Hucks said. "We're going to show up tomorrow, practice our tails off, and we're going to feed on Wednesday and try to find a way to get back here."
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