MARCH 26, 2019 - COVINGTON
After winning just one game in 21 outings a year ago, Covington coach Andy Johnson jokingly told his team that the goal this year was to have twice as many wins.
It may seem like a small thing, but the joke has taken on a life of its own as the kids bring it up on a consistent basis. In a way, it took the pressure off of his young team and reminded them that baseball is suppose to be fun.
And it's never more fun than when you are winning, which Johnson's young team is finding out after a second consecutive victory on back-to-back nights.
Last night is was a 10-3 win over New Knoxville and tonight it was a very disciplined 5-2 win over league rival, Franklin Monroe.
"The guys are excited with how they have started this year," said Johnson. "But, they do realize this is just the beginning. We have a lot more to accomplish."
With every young team there is a learning process and a lot of it revolves around being focused every time you step on a baseball field - whether it's at practice or in warmups before a game.
Tuesday, there was a total lack of focus during warmups, which didn't sit well with many of the upperclassmen.
"The guys were not happy with the pregame infield," Johnson explained. "And they challenged themselves to play better during the game. They stepped up and delivered."
Franklin Monroe struck first with a run in the top of the second, but Covington was able to manufacture a pair of runs in the third thanks to a timely squeeze bunt by senior Gavin McReynolds.
"Gavin laid down a squeeze bunt to score Cooper (Jay) and Colton (Francis scored all the way from first on the overthrow," Johnson explained. "Your leaders always come through in the clutch, and that's exactly what Gavin did tonight. The squeeze bunt he put down changed the momentum of the game. He is willing to do what it takes for the team to win. That squeeze bunt changed the whole ball game."
Because up to that point Covington couldn't get anything going offensively to help out what was a stellar pitching effort by Colton Francis. The junior hurler tossed a one-hitter and held off Franklin Monroe despite three Buccaneer errors in the field.
"Colton threw a fantastic game tonight," praised Johnson of his junior hurler. "Giving up one hit, and striking out eight, you can't ask for much more. He gutted it out and finished what he started. He showed a lot of growth and maturity in how he performed out there."
With Francis in command on the hill, Covington broke the game open with three runs in the bottom of the sixth thanks to big hits by Trentin Alexander, and Wes Gooding.
Franklin Monroe took advantage of a Covington error to score a run in the top of the seventh, by Francis forced two groundouts and a fly out to end the threat and preserve the 5-2 win.
And after helping improve Covington's record to 2-0, Francis tried reenacting the famous speech given by coach Lou Brown in Major League II regarding a winning streak.
"Colton tried to say it (the speech) after the game, but he butchered it," said Johnson.
Which only added to the fun of baseball for the Covington Buccaneers.
SCORE BY INNINGS:
Franklin Monroe - 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 - 2 - 1 - 3
Covington - 0 0 2 0 0 3 X - 5 - 7 - 3