Blowouts are a natural part of high school sports, no matter how much they may make one cringe at their eventual scoreline. Variant size, skill and funding ensure that the playing field is never truly level, all of which means that there is always a major skill disparity to be found somewhere on any given day.
The one place that isn't supposed to be the case is when two teams are playing for a state title, with the final two teams standing allegedly the best two in a given area. Reaching such a competitive level should ensure that both teams are qualified to keep a game close.
Yet a huge blowout of a state title game is precisely what unfolded in Kentucky on Saturday, when Central Hardin (Kent.) High routed state runner-up Mercer County (Kent.) High, 21-2, in the State Baseball Tournament championship game. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, the blowout was even more embarrassing than the final score showed, for one distinct reason: it ended when the mercy rule kicked in midway through the fifth inning.
That's right, Central Hardin racked up 21 runs against the top challenger against it in just four innings.
"We came out swinging the sticks," Central Hardin lead-off hitter Levi McCamish told the Herald-Leader. "We put the hammer down early and just kept it going."
There may be any number of reasons for such a lopsided state final scoreline, yet all would have to be tied to Central Hardin's truly dominant offense. The Bruins had a season-long team batting average of .405, with plenty of double-digit run totals in their 36 wins.
Still, few could have anticipated an offensive explosion that set a new record for largest margin of victory in a state final and marked just the second time in Kentucky history that a team scored 21 runs in a championship game, following on the 1953 state final victory by Bardstown (Kent.) St. Joe High, which knocked off Jenkins (Kent.) High, 21-10.
"Twenty-one to two. Wow," Mercer County Coach Jeremy Shope said. "We just ran into a buzz saw. They flat lit up the scoreboard and hit the ball all over the park. It was one of those nights they found the barrel. Hats off to 'em."