It was not pretty, but the end result was what Rowan County coach Steve Walters wanted.

Matt Martin walked eight batters and hit another three, but finished the game with a no-hitter as the Vikings defeated Bath County 12-2 in six innings in the 61st District semifinals on Monday night at the Don Hardin Field in Morehead. The victory means the Vikings earned an automatic bid to the 16th Region Tournament, which begins Monday at Morehead State.

Fleming County defeated Menifee County 16-0 in the other semifinal game.

“It was possibly the ugliest no-hit, mercy (rule victory), I have ever seen,” Walters’ joked. “We were kind of held down for a little while. We scored three runs in the first inning and then had some opportunities to cash it in on them and finally the bats got going and we got several runs in.”

Rowan County (27-8) scored three quick runs in the first inning, but it took another four innings for the Vikings to really turn up the heat as the visiting team on the scoreboard tallied seven runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth to seal the mercy-rule win.

The Vikings notched three consecutive singles and had five straight batters reach base in the first to get their three runs. With one out Logan Barker, Brad Stacy and Tyler McCleese each singled, with Stacy’s hit driving in pinch runner Jonathan Duff. Matthew Daniel broke the string of hits by earning a walk to load the bases. Matt Alderman followed with a two-run single to center field. Rowan County could have added another run, but Daniel was thrown out in a play at the plate.

Martin was effective early, striking four of Bath County’s first eight batters in the opening two innings.

However, the Viking offense went dormant for the next three innings. The one bright spot was Nathan Miles reaching base on a fielder’s choice in the second inning and advancing all the way to third courtesy of an errant throw on his attempted steal of second base.

Bath County (13-13) took advantage of walks, wild pitches and being hit by pitches in the fourth inning to generate its first run. After getting two outs, the Vikings allowed four straight batters on base after hitting a pair of Wildcats and then walking two more. A pair of wild pitches got Bath County on the scoreboard. Zack Baber, who was hit by a pitch to start the rally, scored the Wildcat run.

The Vikings came alive in the fifth inning. Paul Newcomb and Miles led off with a pair of singles and Barker was hit by a pitch. Stacy singled to drive in two runs and advanced to second on a fielding error. Two batters later Daniel’s sacrifice bunt was misplayed by the Wildcats and Duff, again running for Barker, scored.

Next up was Alderman, who reached base after a dropped third strike to reload the bases. The Bath County pitching started to struggle as Jason Brockman and Chris Callihan each earned an RBI by drawing a walk. The Wildcats then turned to Taylor Staton on the mound to finish out the inning. Staton’s first batter, Newcomb, singled to drive in Alderman and Brockman to cap off a seven-run inning.

Allen Trusty earned a lead off walk in the Bath County fifth. He advanced two bases on a wild pitch, before scoring during Justin Mitchell’s at bat.

Rowan County added its final two runs in the sixth inning on a McCleese home run to center field. He drove in Stacy, who singled to lead off the inning.

Bath County, which ended its season on a five-game losing streak, got two runners on base in the bottom of the sixth, but the Vikings forced Tyler Ferrell to ground into a double play to end the game.

Despite a sloppy outing, Martin earned the win. He went the distance and struck out eight.

“Matt Martin struggled,” said Walters. “He told me that he couldn’t find his rhythm, couldn’t find his zone, and it showed. He threw an awful lot of pitches, but still ended up with a no-hitter, which tells you that when he has his good stuff and is on, he can be untouchable.”

Joe Meehan took the loss. He went four and one-third innings and surrendered 10 runs, seven hits, and four walks and hit two batters. He also struck out one. Staton pitched the final inning and two-thirds, allowing two runs on three hits, while striking out one.

Stacy led the Viking offense with a 3-for-3 performance. He also added three RBI and scored three times. McCleese and Newcomb also had both a pair of hits and RBI. Miles, Barker and Alderman each added one hit to round out the Rowan County total. Alderman, Brockman and Callihan each picked up RBI. McCleese and Duff each scored twice; while Miles, Daniel, Alderman, Brockman and Newcomb each crossed home plate once.

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