By Bryant Billing
DAYTON — Playing in a minor league stadium is special for most high school baseball teams after playing nearly 20 games in fields with rusted fences, hilly outfields and poorly manicured grass.
But playing in Fifth Third Field in downtown Dayton was of secondary importance for Lehman Catholic on Thursday. The Cavaliers were most excited to help coach Dave King reach a rare milestone.
King, who’s coached Lehman since 2008, earned his 600th career win on Thursday with the Cavaliers’ 11-1 win over Riverside in five innings. According to Ohio High School Athletic Association records, King is the 15th coach to reach 600 wins.
“I’ve been blessed with great players that know the game,” King said. “And my assistant coaches, all of them, too many to name, have been great. I owe a lot to everybody. You’re only as good as your players, and it’s not about me for anything. It’s all about the players. A little longevity there for me is all. I like to think that we have good teams and we coach good teams.”
Bryce Kennedy, who leads Lehman with a .607 batting average, said King is a very caring coach.
“He takes it seriously, teaches us the fundamentals,” Kennedy said. “Everything he does is to help us. Makes sure we know what we’re doing.”
King coached Sidney’s baseball team from 1977-2001. After four seasons off, he took over Jackson Center’s program in 2006 and coached the Tigers until going to Lehman in 2008.
“I just want to take the opportunity to thank Sidney High School and Jackson Center High School and Lehman Catholic for letting me coach this great game,” King said. “We’ll just keep going for a while and see what happens. All glory to God. I love these guys, and I love this game.”
Lehman (12-6) took control on Thursday by scoring nine runs on eight hits in the second inning. Drew Barhorst had a 2-RBI double and a 1-RBI single in the second, while Jared Magoteaux had an RBI single, Tyler Lachey had an RBI single, RJ Bertini had a 2-RBI single and Brandon Barhorst had an RBI single. The Pirates had two errors in the inning to aid in Lehman’s effort.
Riverside took a 1-0 lead in the first. Greg Bryant hit a single on a hard grounder to center field to score Trey Lane, who led off the game with a single to left. The Pirates managed one hit the rest of the game.
Mageoteaux pitched a complete game for the Cavaliers. He had eight strikeouts.
“It started off a little shaky,” King said. “Jared, it took him a while to get adjusted in this great venue, a minor league park. Everybody was in the game, and we just had some key hits.”
Lehman added a run in each the third and fourth innings.
Bertini was 3 for 3 with 2 RBIs for Lehman, while Drew Barhorst was 2 for 3 and Lachey was 2 for 4. The Cavaliers had 11 hits and didn’t commit an error — a day after they committed five errors in a Northwest Central Conference game at Marion Elgin.
“We didn’t play like a team that much last night, and this was big,” Kennedy said. “We got it together after that first inning. Came out here, hit the ball well.”
Harley Asbury was charged with the loss for Riverside (7-10). He pitched two innings and gave up four earned runs on seven hits with one strikeout. The Pirates finished with six errors.
Lehman has home NWCC games left with Hardin Northern on Saturday and Lima Perry on May 11. They’ll open tournament play at home on May 9 against the winner of a Jackson Center vs. Covington.
Lehman has a .383 team batting average and .470 on-base percentage. Kennedy said he thinks the team’s hitting can help in the tournament.
“We’ve been able to hit well this year,” Kennedy said. “Hitting, and some pretty good defense. As long as we throw strikes, we’ll be good.”
King is one of three active coaches in the Dayton area with over 600 career wins. Northmont coach Chuck Harlow surpassed 700 career wins earlier this season and Tippecanoe coach Bruce Cahill had 650 wins as of 2017.
Thursday’s game was a nonconference contest between the two NWCC squads. Lehman beat Riverside 14-3 in league play on April 9.