LEXINGTON — Bradley Poynter had been preparing for this moment for months. And he was ready.
"I was told at the beginning of the season that I had to go seven innings in the regional — and that's what it came down to," Poynter said. The sophomore rose to that challenge. Poynter scattered six hits as #7 Madison Central topped #10 Frederick Douglass, 8-4, in the semifinals of the 11th Region Tournament on Sunday evening at Lexington Catholic. Senior Nate Storie hit a two-run homer and catcher Tyler Brook drove in three runs for the Indians (31-8).
"It means so much for our community, our school and for us — and it's going to be a lot of fun," Madison Central coach Steve Roof said of the championship match-up with the Generals. The Indians scored twice in the bottom of the sixth to take a seemingly safe lead, but the Broncos (28-9) got a hit to lead off the seventh before Poynter hit the next batter. The sophomore, however, wasn't rattled.
"No sweat. I had a four-run lead. So, I just had to throw strikes and trust my defense," Poynter said.
His teammates did come up big. Jaevon Hurt lined to shortstop Brandon Anderson, who flipped to second base for the second out of the inning. Luke Coleman's throw to first, though, was high, denying a potential game-ending triple play. "That would have been a great way to walk off the field," Poynter said. The sophomore ended the game one batter later with a strikeout. Frederick Douglass took a 1-0 just three batters into the game after a lead-off double.
The Indians tied the game in the bottom of the first on a single by Brook, which scored Hayden Robbins. Central took the lead for good in the fourth. Matthew Bryant's sacrifice fly scored Anderson and after a Matt Johns single, Storie ripped a home run to right field — his third of the season. "I was just looking for my pitch. I took it to the opposite field, like we've talked about all week," Storie said. "I just put a good barrel on it." The Broncos answered back, though. Leighton Harris hit a two-run homer off Poynter in the top of the fifth inning. The right-hander regrouped and retired the next three batters. "I'm going to give them my best and they better give me their best," Poynter said. "He just beat me on that one. As long as we get the win, that's all that matters."
The Indians gave their starter some insurance in the bottom of the inning. Robbins and Anderson singled and both scored on another hit by Brook — who had the walk-off single against Lexington Christian Academy in the opening round on Saturday in Richmond. In the sixth, Storie walked and later scored on a passed ball, while Brady Vaughn reached on an error and scored on a single by Carter Ruffner. Brook was 2-for-4, while Anderson was 2-for-3 with a triple, a walk and scored twice. Robbins was 1-for-2 with a walk and scored twice. Johns was 1-for-2 and scored once. Storie was 2-for-2 with a walk and scored twice. Gavin Faulkner started for Douglass and went four innings, allowinig four runs on four hits with three strikeouts and two walks. Harris pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowing four hits, four runs (two earned) and two walks with two strikeouts. Braxton Burse worked 1/3 of an inning.
Madison Central beat Lafayette, 9-3, on April 19 in Lexington. The Indians and Generals were considered the preseason favorites to get the championship game. They've lived up to those expectations. "I feel like people thought both teams were good," Storie said. "It was just whether or not we could both put it all together, and we ended up doing it." Central will be looking for its first 11th Region title since 2018. Lafayette's last trip to the state tournament was 17 years ago — 2004.