On Monday, they faced an even bigger challenge, though.
"We knew it was going to be a battle," Madison Central coach Steve Roof said of Lafayette senior right-hander Micah Cowan. "He's a really good pitcher."
The Generals collected 11 hits off a total of six pitchers and blew open a close game by scoring two runs in the fifth and four more runs in the sixth. Lafayette moves into to the state sub-sectional and will take on the winner of the 10th Region on Saturday at the University of Kentucky.
"We hit some balls hard. You've got to give credit to their defense," Roof said of Lafayette. "They took away several hits (from us). Hats off. They were the better team today." Cowan carried an 8-1 record into the region title game. In 43 innings, the senior had allowed only 24 hits, 10 runs (five earned) and two walks with 71 strikeouts.
The Indians, though, struck first on Monday.
Senior shortstop Brandon Anderson ripped the first pitch he saw over the right field fence for his sixth home run of the season. Central had the first two batters reach base in the top of the second inning, but couldn't extend the lead.
"We played with a lot of emotion (against LCA and Frederick Douglass) and I thought we came out with a good approach (on Monday)," Roof said. The Generals tied the game in the bottom of the second on a solo homer by Jack Harris, then took the lead with a double by Mason Pittman in the third. Matt Johns had pitched three scoreless innings when Central picked up a 9-3 win over Lafayette on April 19 in Lexington. The junior right-hander got the start in the region final and kept the Indians in the game. Johns went 4 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits, four run and one walk with three strikeouts.
"I thought he did a great job," Roof said of Johns. "That's a tough offense to keep off the board. They just keep coming at you. I was really proud of our pitchers." John Girard (1/3 inning), Dylan Hatfield (1/3), Aiden Carter, Brett Campbell (2/3) and Mason Bryant (1/3) all worked in relief for Central.
The Indians got a bunt single from Luke Coleman in the fifth and a double from Tyler Brook in the sixth, but left both stranded. Central had two runners on in the seventh, but Cowan got a groundout on his 99th pitch to seal the championship. "They made the plays and (Cowan) filled up the zone," Roof said.
The Indians were back in the 11th Region title game for the fourth time in the past seven seasons. Central had a pair of seven-game winning streaks and picked up several victories over ranked teams.
Central's last region championship was in 2018.
"I am proud of them. We were family all year," Roof said. "We put them through a lot. It was a tough schedule. They battled. They stayed together and I can't thank them enough." By Nathan Hutchinson
2021 Seniors: Brandon Anderson, Mason Bryant, Ty Brook, Aiden Carter, Luke Coleman, Dawson Hall, Nathan Moore, Carter Ruffner, Bryce Snapp, Nate Storie, Brady Vaughn