In a classic confrontation pitting the top two ranked teams in Class 4A baseball, No. 2 Ashley Ridge edge No. 1 Lexington 2-1 in nine innings on Friday to win the Lower State championship and advance to next week’s best-of-three state title series against Byrnes.
The Swamp Foxes (29-1) rode the pitching of Patrick Mace to victory. Mace went the distance, scattering seven hits and allowing the potent Wildcats attack just one run in the first inning. Colie Bowers led off the game with a single and eventually scored on a ground out off the bat of Collin Steagall. That was it.
In two games against the Swamp Foxes, Lexington managed just three runs and 11 hits in 16 innings. Austin Livingston tossed a four-hitter is AR’s 4-2 win in the semifinals on Monday.
Lexington was nursing a 1-0 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, but couldn’t seal the deal. Tyler Hamby got things going with a one-out single of Wildcats starter Josh Reagan. The Swamp Foxes were down to their last out when Reagan fanned Irv Batten, but Lorenzo Wright responded to the pressure with single to center and Billy Seigler followed with a run-scoring single to push the game into extra innings.
In the bottom of the ninth Batten reached after being hit by a pitch from Lexington reliever Elliott Lance, who departed in favor of Nick Jobst after walking the next AR batter. Siegler then beat out a bunt for a hit to load the bases with no outs. Batten scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly to right by Nick Bell.
Lexington’s first season under coach Brian Hucks closed with a 27-4 record.