MAY 4, 2016 - COVINGTON
It wasn't pretty, but the Covington Buccaneers were able to hold off Bethel for a critical Cross County Conference win in a make-up game on Wednesday.
"We hit the ball early on, but the last three innings we struggled at the plate," said Covington coach Mitch Hirsch after a 5-4 win on "Senior Night".
The Buccaneers scored two runs in the first and two more in the third for a 4-1 lead and then pushed the advantage to 5-1 with another run in the bottom of the fourth. But the bats went cold and Covington never threatened the rest of the way.
Which put pressure on Buccaneer starter Christian Nelson, who was in the midst of tossing a great game through four innings.
But Hirsch was forced to pull Nelson with two outs in the fifth after three Bethel runs scored and the go-ahead run was on base.
"That's not on Christian though," Hirsch explained. "We had some mistakes in the field that didn't help him."
One mistake came on a line shot by Bethel to center field with two outs. The ball got away from All-State outfielder Jame Grilliot and Bethel capitalized to plate three runs.
"Nine times out of ten he makes that play," said Hirsch. "James knows it and you can bet the next time he makes that play. That's the type of competitor he is. That made it five to four and Christian walked the next batter, so we brought Tristan (Sowers) in to get out of it."
And Sowers came through by forcing a grounder to short, where Nathan Blei threw to first for the final out of the inning.
Sowers and the Buccaneer defense then closed out Bethel in the final two innings to hold on for the win.
"We made some defensive plays at the end that were big, but there were still a couple of plays we need to make," Hirsch said. "If we play better defense, this was a five to one or five to two game. Instead, we made it too close."
Both James Grilliot and Levi Winn went 2-for-3 in the contest with Grilliot driving in a run on a triple and Winn driving in two runs. Nathan Blei connected on an rbi double and Mason Dilley had a hit.
The Buccaneers are off tomorrow before heading down to Fifth/Third Field on Friday to play St. Henry.
SCORE BY INNINGS:
Bethel - 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 - 4 - 7 - 3
Covington - 2 0 2 1 0 0 X - 5 - 6 - 1