WARDSVILLE - Seth Lehmen picked up the slack.
With Fatima's offense mustering just one hit through the first five innings, the senior right-hander made sure South Callaway's offense wasn't going to find the scoreboard.
Lehmen tossed a complete-game four-hit shutout to lead the top-seeded Comets past fourth-seeded South Callaway 6-0 in the first Class 3 District 13 Tournament semifinal Monday evening at the Falcon Athletic Complex.
"Seth Lehmen, what more do you say?" Fatima head coach Scott Kilgore said. "The kid threw a gem. You can always pretty much expect that when he steps foot on the mound. He's a competitor and he's going to give you 100 percent. He did just that."
Lehmen struck out five, walked three and kept the Bulldogs hitless (0-for-6) with runners in scoring position. Even after taking a hard grounder off his shin in the top of the fourth, he remained strong and got out of a jam with a runner on third and two outs.
"His breaking ball was looking really sharp and he was spotting his fastball," Kilgore said. "When you can do both of those, you're going to be successful."
Fatima got all the scoring it needed in the bottom of the first inning with a pair of runs on no hits.
After two quick outs, Reid Kesel drew a walk and Patrick Schnieders reached on an error. A wild pitch and a passed ball later, it was 1-0 Fatima. A walk and a passed ball followed and the Comets led 2-0.
"Two runs in high-school baseball is nothing to really relax with," Kilgore said. "I thought we'd bounce back a little bit with some hits, but it's been almost a week since we've played. You get the No. 1 seed, you get a bye and you have to sit a little bit."
Logan Vogel singled to lead off the bottom of the second. Fatima didn't collect another base hit until the bottom of the sixth thanks to strong pitching from Bulldog starter Gordon Arthaud, a left-hander who kept Fatima off-balance.
"He did his job," South Callaway coach Jared Wood said of the left-hander's 4 1/3 innings of one-hit ball. Arthaud walked six and struck out four. "There were a couple mistakes that were made behind him, and if those mistakes weren't made the game would still be going on right now, a 0-0 ball game."
Said Kilgore: "We were just having a little bit of trouble picking him up. The background or the buildings or something, coming out of his hand was tough. That's the adversity that you face, and you have to overcome it."
South Callaway did have its chances, leaving runners on base in every inning but the sixth.
"We fought hard and we had our chances," Wood said. "We were right in the game the whole entire way. One hit there and it's a totally different ball game. I really applaud the way we fought. Nothing to hang our heads about."
South Callaway's Bradley Smart was able to work out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the fifth after the Comets used two walks and a hit-batter to get Arthaud out of the game.
The Bulldogs weren't so lucky in the sixth, as Fatima finally broke through with three hits to score four runs.
"The sixth inning was big obviously," Kilgore said. "Getting a few insurance runs is always nice."
Will Robertson drew a one-out walk, and after a pitching change, Hunter Hennier took first on a base on balls. Brady Weber smacked a two-run single to make it 4-0, and following an infield single from Nolan Bax, Weber came home on the back end of a double steal. Schnieders capped the scoring with a RBI single blooped to right field.
South Callaway, the 2012 Class 2 state champion, ends its first season in Class 3 with a 10-7 record.
Fatima (18-5) plays second-seeded Blair Oaks in the district title game at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Wardsville. It's the second straight year the teams have met with the district championship on the line, as Blair Oaks edged Fatima 11-8 last season.
"A win is a win at this time of the year," Kilgore said. "That's a good one. We're ready for Wednesday."