By Ben Robinson
NEW KNOXVILLE —- It wasn’t perfect by any means, but a very young Covington baseball team showcased the maturity gained throughout the offseason in a convincing 10-3 win over New Knoxville to open the 2019 season.
“I am really happy with how we played,” said a delighted Covington coach Andy Johnson. “We played with a lot of confidence.”
Confidence. That was the key for Covington as it was able to overcome mistakes by staying focused on the next play – preventing mistakes from snowballing as they did a year ago.
“We got ourselves in some tough situations with a couple of walks and some errors, but we battled through and got out of some jams,” Johnson said. “We wouldn’t have been able to do that last year.”
The biggest jam Covington was able to get out of came in the bottom of the third after New Knoxville cut the Buccaneer lead to 4-3 and had the bases loaded with one out. The threat ended abruptly on a double play from short to second to first.
From there the Buccaneers put the game away by scoring a run in each of the fourth and fifth innings, three runs in the sixth and a final run in the seventh.
And much of Covington’s offensive success came from aggressive base running and making contact on the ball with runners in scoring position.
“We were aggressive on the bases and that put us in position to score a lot of runs,” said Johnson.
Raven Grilliot got the start on the hill for Covington and he tossed three innings before surrendering to sophomore Wes Gooding in the fourth.
After giving up a base hit to the first batter he faced, Gooding threw no-hit ball the rest of the way to pick up the win.
“Raven got us off to a great start on the mound and Wes came in and pitched lights out,” praised Johnson. “He’s gaining more confidence every time he throws.”
Jake Hamilton led Covington at the plate by driving in two runs on a 2-for-4 night, while Colton Francis went 1-for-3 and scored a pair of runs.
The Buccs were scheduled to host Franklin Monroe Tuesday.