By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
PLEASANT HILL — Covington centerfielder Allie Garman had one thought as she saw Marissa Deeter’s drive headed into left-centerfield with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning.
“Oh crap, I have got to catch this,” Garman said with a smile after her diving catch ended the game and gave Covington a 4-3 win over Newton in D-IV sectional action.
Covington, who improved to 7-11 with the win, will play Riverside, a 3-2 winner over Lehman in eight innings, in a D-IV sectional final Tuesday at a site to be announced.
After Covington had scored three runs in the top of the eighth to take a 4-1 lead, Newton had scored two runs and had the the tying and winning runs on second and third when Marissa Deeter came to the plate.
After fouling off a number of full-count pitches against Covington ace Kenzie Long, Deeter hit a drive that appeared to be ticketed for a game-winning double.
“What an at bat,” Newton coach Mark Gibson said. “It was something ridiculous like 16 or 18 pitches. It looks like she has won the game and the girl (Allie Garman) makes a great catch out there.”
Garman knew it was do or die.
“That is exactly what I was thinking,” Garman said. “That they were going to win if I didn’t make that catch. I took off running, made the catch and ended up on the ground.”
Which set off a big celebration in the Covington dugout.
“What a play by Allie Garman,” Covington coach Phil Smith said. “The ball was hit between left and center and Allie (Garman) did a great job taking charge out there. This was a great team win for us.”
While the Buccs were the 11th seed and Newton, 18-5, the third seed, neither was surprised by the battle that ensued between pitching aces Long and Erin Norman of Newton.
“We went 10 innings during the season at their place and were fortunate enough to win by one,” Gibson said. “We knew this was going to be a tough game.”
It was exactly that, with Long and Norman giving the other team few opportunities.
Covington took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Garman singled and scored when Morgan Studebaker’s singled and the ball got past the outfield.
“I knew Allie (Garman) would score,” Smith said. “She has great speed and I have confidence in her.”
While Studebaker was on third with no outs, Norman would get out of the jam without giving up a second run.
“I thought Erin (Norman) really threw a nice game out there,” Gibson said.
The game remained 1-0 until the Newton sixth.
Brooke Deeter had a leadoff single.
After Ashlyn Deeter walked, Long retired the next two batters.
Addison Peters walked to load the bases and Camryn Gleason walked to force in Ashlyn Deeter to tie the game 1-1.
Both teams went down in order in the seventh, forcing extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, Makenna Gostomsky drew a leadoff single, moved to second on a wild pitch and third when Newton catcher Marissa Deeter had to throw to first to complete a strikeout.
Newton then intentionally walked Long and she took second uncontested.
Kirstie Barnes got down 0-2 in the count, but hit a grounder to shortstop and beat it out as Gostomsky scored to make it 2-1.
“That is Kirstie (Barnes) just having the experience of situations like that,” Smith said.
Bethany Weldy and Ashlyn Plessinger followed with RBI singles to make it 4-1.
“They found holes with a couple balls,” Gibson said. “That is what I told Erin (Norman). You don’t have any control what happens once the ball leaves your hand.”
Newton didn’t go down without a fight.
With one out in the home eighth, Kara Chaney singled and Norman reached on an error.
After a fielder’s choice for the second out, Laci Miller was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Baily Chaney had a two-run single to make it 4-3 and set up the dramatic finish.
Studebaker was 3-for-4 for Covington and Haylie Jackson had a double.
Long pitched a seven-hitter, striking out five, walking five and hitting two batters.
Kara Chaney was 2-for-3 for Newton and Baily Chaney and Brooke Deeter were 2-for-4.
Norman and Brooke Deeter, who faced three batters in the fifth, combined on a nine-hitter, with eight strikeouts and a walk.
“We just didn’t execute in a few situations where we needed to,” Gibson said. “We failed to get some bunts down you have to keep the ball in front of you and not let them have extra bases. I am really going to miss the three seniors. Erin (Norman) will be a big loss on the mound. Mallory (Dunlevy) is not just a loss at third. She is what I call a program player. She is the kind of player every program needs. I know Ally Weaver didn’t play a lot, but we are really going to miss her enthusiasm in the dugout. It won’t be the same without her.”
Both teams have regular season games next.
Newton will close the season at Tri-Village Friday, while Covington will complete a suspended game with Bradford at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Covington leads 6-3 in the third inning.
But, it will be hard to top Thursday’s win.
“This is huge,” Garman said. “Especially, because it was Newton and they had beaten us in 10 innings earlier in the season.”
Thanks to Garman and the “catch”.
Piqua Daily Call Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at email@example.com
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