|FOCUSED BUCCS BEAT RUSSIA IN TOURNEY...
The Covington Buccaneers beat Russia 10-5 to open the sectional tournament and displayed the ability they have when they are focused and determined.
May 14, 2009 - COVINGTON
When the Covington Buccaneers are focused and ready to play baseball they are tough to beat as Russia found out on Thursday in the sectional tournament in a 10-5 Buccaneers victory.
"The kids were ready to play tonight and it showed," said Covington coach Mitch Hirsch. "We got out to a big lead in our first three at bats and then responded with a couple of runs to put the game away after they had a big inning. We kept the pressure on them the entire game."
Covington scored two runs in the first, four in the second and another in the third to build a 7-0 lead.
Russia tallied a run in the top of the fourth, but Covington responded with another run for an 8-1 lead.
All the while, Buccaneer left-hander Jake Stewart was on the mound keeping Russia hitters off balance with his curve ball.
"Jake threw really well tonight," Hirsch praised of his sophomore pitcher. "He did a good job of changing things up and hitting his spots. We needed him to step up big tonight and he did."
The ball was put into Stewart's hand in the tournament opener thanks to his stellar performance against St. Henry at Fifth-Third Field a couple of weeks ago.
"He came in late in the game against Fort Loramie and shut them down and when he followed that up against St. Henry at Fifth-Third, I knew he could handle the pressure of a big game," Hirsch explained. "He came out tonight and did just that."
Stewart went four-and-one-third innings before being replaced by Kyle Kanet in the middle of the fifth inning.
"He just got tired," said Hirsch of Stewart being pulled after a stellar effort. "He didn't want to come out, but it was time to make the change. He did the job we asked of him."
Kanet closed out the fifth, but found himself some trouble in the sixth as Russia racked up four runs on timely hitting.
"It takes Kyle a little while to get going and he struggled a little bit in the sixth," Hirsch said. "But give Russia credit. Kyle threw strikes and they just hit the ball."
With the four runs, Russia was able to cut the Covington lead to 8-5 and gain plenty of momentum.
But the Buccs responded in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a two-run double by Chris Long, who battled a 2-2 count with two outs and the bases loaded.
"That was a big two-out hit by Cookie (Chris Long)," Hirsch said. "If we didn't score in the sixth, who knows what happens? They would have had all the momentum in the top of the seventh. A five-run lead is much better than a three-run lead at that point because they (Russia) just had the big inning before that."
It also allowed Kanet some cushion to find his groove on the mound, which he did by shutting down the Russia batters to close out the contest.
"It (the two runs in the sixth) eases the pressure on the pitcher," Hirsch continued. "Kyle was able to relax and get his curve ball working. He was a different pitcher in the seventh."
To go along with Long's bit hit, Covington had others contribute throughout the contest as well.
Adam Craft went 2-3, while Nate Lavey and Andrew DeHart each went 2-4. Lavey doubled and recorded two RBI and one of DeHart's hits drove in a run.
The victory sets up a rematch with Lehman, who knocked Covington out of the tournament a year ago. The game will be played on Tuesday at Tipp City.
"We just have to be ready to play and not worry about what happened last year," said Hirsch. "We have a different group of kids and they have a different group of kids. We need to take it one game at a time and stay focused on what we have to do."
Covington and Lehman played earlier in the year with the Buccs coming out on top, 14-5.
SCORING BY INNINGS:
Russia ...............0...0...0...1...0...4...0 - 5 - 9 - 3
Covington .........2...4...1...1...0...2...x - 10 - 10 - 0