|SEASON ENDS AGAINST LEHMAN...AGAIN!
The Covington Buccaneers falls to Lehman in the sectional tournament for the third straight season.
MAY 18, 2009 - PIQUA
Lehman baseball coach Dave King had just watched the Cavaliers defeat Covington 6-0 Monday in a Division IV sectional final at Hardman Field.
And his thoughts were on the players in the opposing dugout, playing just three days after the unexpected death of teacher and coach DougSwartz.
"My heart goes out to those kids," King said. "When you lose someone like that who is a big part of the community, no one knows how that weighs on the kids. Everybody reacts to something like that differently. So, we weren't sure what Covington team we were going to see today."
One thing King is certain of. He couldn't ask anymore of his kids, including senior pitcher Kameron Barton, who hurled a four-hit shutout. Lehman will play the Southeastern-Bethel winner at 5 p.m. Friday at Northmont in a D-IV district final.
"That was a gem," King said of Barton's performance on the mound. "I can't say enough about the job Kam (Barton) did. But, it was a team win. We made plays behind him on defense and got big hits when we needed them."
Which is something Covington couldn't do against Barton. The righthander struck out nine and walked five, while stranding 10 runners.
"You have to give Barton credit," Covington coach Mitch Hirsch said. "We just couldn't get a big hit when we needed it. We certainly had our chances."
The Buccs had runners in scoring position in five of the seven innings, but could not dent the plate.
"I told coach (Dave King) before the game I didn't want to give up a run today," Barton said. "So, I was pretty determined to not let them score."
Jake Bitner had started the Buccs first with a single, but after a sacrifice, Barton got two strikeouts to end the rally, a theme that would continue.
In the second, after Lehman catcher Wil Fridley threw out a runner stealing, Barton walked two batters, before a strikeout and groundout back to him ended the rally.
In the third, with the bases loaded and two outs, Barton got a strikeout to end the rally.
And in the sixth, the Buccs had runners on second and third with no outs, before Barton got three straight strikeouts to end the rally.
"That really surprised me," Barton said about the strikeouts. "My fastball was working pretty good in the sixth inning."
At the same time, Lehman was making the most of its opportunities.
In the second, Barton started the rally with a single. Fridley didn't get a bunt down, but more than made up for it by drilling a double to score the game's first run.
"We had some big hits when we needed them," King said.
Barton added a two-out, two-run double in the third and added a RBI double in the seventh to cap the scoring and 3-for-4 day at the plate.
"That surprised me," Barton said. "Last game, I was focused on my pitching and didn't hit very well."
Lehman also had single runs in the fourth and fifth on a wild pitch and error respectively.
Which, was more than enough with Barton on the mound.
"Kam (Barton) pitched a great game," King said. "Wil (catcher Wil Fridley) does a great job behind the plate and Rob (assistant coach Rob Fridley) does a great job with our pitchers."
And once again, Lehman find themselves playing their best when it counts the most, after a run to the regionals last spring. The Cavaliers are now 19-8 on the season.
"Everybody started hitting and playing good defense at the same time," Barton said. "That is a good combination. Once we got the lead, that helped a lot. It is pretty easy to pitch with a lead."
Bitner had two hits for Covington, 17-6-1. Kyle Kanet and Jake Stewart combined on an eight-hitter.
"Yes we had a good season," Hirsch said. "But, this is the third or fourth year in a row we lost in the sectional finals. We need to find a way to get beyond that point."
And Hirsch made no excuses, although he understood the difficulty of playing Monday.
"All the players knew Doug (Swartz) and liked him," Hirsch said. "We knew this was going to be a difficult day. It is just one of those things you have to deal with (in life). We knew this was going to be tough."
Which is why King's thoughts were with the Buccs after the game.
Lehman .......012...110...1 6 8 1
Covington ....000...000...0 0 4 3
Barton and Fridley. Kanet, Stewart (4) and Craft. 2B-Lehman: Barton (2), Fridley. Records: Lehman, 19-8. Covington, 17-6-1.