By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
COVINGTON — This is not your Covington baseball team of last season.
Which Lehman Catholic almost found out the hard way Saturday.
The Cavaliers trailed the Buccaneers 3-0 after four innings before escaping with a 5-3 victory.
Lehman Catholic improved to 6-1, while Covington dropped 2-5-1, already double its win total from a year ago.
“I think this does show (how far the Buccs have come),” Covington coach Andy Johnson said. “For me, just the fact we only have two seniors is exciting for me to think about.”
And Lehman coach Dave King knew the Cavaliers dodged a bullet.
“It is never over until it is over,” he said. “We were fortunate to get out of here with a win. Coach (Andy) Johnson is doing a great job with them (Covington) and has them believing in themselves. I am not saying we didn’t take them seriously, but we came out flat in the early going.”
Cooper Jay started things in the first with a single and was forced out at second on Gavin McReynolds’ fielder’s choice.
Trentin Alexander was hit by a pitch and Cooper Jay walked.
Jakob Hamilton followed by delivering a two-out, two-run single to get the Buccs on the board.
“Jakob (Hamilton) has really been swinging the bat well for us,” Johnson said.
In the Covington second, Raven Grilliot reached on an error and came around to score on Colton Francis’ two-out single to make it 3-0.
“The start of the game was exactly what I wanted to see,” Johnson said. “We had them off-balance for a while.”
But Lehman Catholic pitcher Drew Barhorst was able to keep Covington off the board the rest of the way before Jared Magoteaux entered and pitched a perfect seventh. They scattered six hits.
“I thought Drew (Barhorst) really battled out there today,” King said. “I thought he did a nice job.”
Still, Lehman couldn’t break through off Covington right-hander Wes Gooding until the fifth inning, when the Cavaliers got three runs to tie it.
Ethan Potts singled before Gooding retired the next two batters.
But RJ Bertini had a RBI single to get Lehman on the board.
After Alex Keller singled, Magoteaux had a two-run single to tie the game at three.
“Those were big hits,” King said about Bertini and Magoteaux’s hits. “But, you look at it. I think every run that scored today, was scored with two outs. That is a big part of baseball.”
Ironically, Lehman broke the tie in the sixth without a hit.
After Gooding the first two batters, Lehman would draw four straight walks to force in the go-ahead run.
Gooding walked Potts and Barhorst. Colton Francis replaced him and walked Bryce Kennedy and Bertini to put Lehman up 4-3.
“The thing I wasn’t real happy with,” King said, “is our next batter swings at the first pitch after four straight walks and tomahawks it to the second baseman.”
Lehman added the final run in the seventh.
Francis walked Magoteaux to start the inning, bringing Hamilton in to finish the inning.
Seth Roe ran for Magoteaux and with two-outs, Mitchell Sollmann drilled the ball through the right side for a RBI single to make it 5-3.
“That hit by (Mitchell) Sollmann was huge to give us an insurance run,” King said.
Gooding, Francis and Hamilton combined on a seven-hitter for Covington.
“We are still working on things,” King said. “We still have a ways to go.”
But he was happy to escape Covington with a win against a much improved Buccs team.
Contact Piqua Daily Call Sports Editor Rob Kiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.