By Rob Kiser
APRIL 6, 2021 - PLEASANT HILL
For A Covington baseball team with high expectations, it was a benchmark game.
And it played out exactly the way the Buccs wanted against Newton Tuesday in Cross County Conference action — and exactly the way the Indians didn’t want.
Covington southpaw Jensen Wagoner threw a masterpiece, hurling a two-hit shutout in the Buccs 6-0 victory. He struck out 13, while hitting two batters and walking one.
Covington improved to 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the CCC, while Newton dropped to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the CCC.
And it verified to what Covington coach Andy Johnson has been telling his players, that they can play with anybody.
“Newton is always one of the top teams in the conference,” Johnson said. “This is a big win for us.”
Wagoner, who also hit a home run, was in control on the mound.
“We haven’t seen a pitcher like him,” Newton coach Jordan Kopp said. “You get down to him early and you are not going to come back.”
Which is exactly the way things transpired.
Newton pitcher Colin Tackett appeared to be out of the first inning.
But, a two-out error extended the inning.
“We should have been out of that inning,” Kopp said. “And we give up three runs.”
A walk to Wes Gooding loaded the bases and Covington’s six and seven hitters did the damage.
Jake Dilley drilled a RBI single and Carter Maxson followed with a two-run double to make it 3-0.
“We got some big hits from the lower part of the order,” Johnson said. “Those guys really stepped up.”
That inning changed the game for Newton.
“First, he (Jensen Wagoner) is a lefthander and has a good move to first, so that makes it tough to run on him,” Kopp said. “We like to run the bases and move runners. That is a big part of our game. And when you get down 3-0, that kind of goes away.”
It stayed that way until the fifth inning when Wagoner launched a home run over the left field fence.
“I am just trying to help my team (when he is batting),” Wagoner said. “I saw a 3-1 fastball coming and I unloaded on it.”
With one out, Gooding, Dilley and Maxson all singled and Gooding came in on Trey Schmelzer’s fielder’s choice.
Covington added a final run in the sixth when Wagoner singled, stole second and scored on Jakob Hamilton’s single.
That was more than enough for Wagoner, despite the fact Newton had two runners on with less than two outs in the first, third and sixth.
In the first, shortstop Job Morgan caught a line drive and Wagoner ended the inning with a strikeout.
In the third, he got out a a jam with two strikeouts.
And in the sixth, he had a strikeout and a fly ball to Hamilton in left field.
“You leave six runners on against a pitcher like that, you are not going to win,” Kopp said.
“When there are baserunners, I just have to focus,” Wagoner said. “I have to focus on Coop’s (catcher Cooper Jay) mitt. It is not all me though. My defense made plays behind me. Job Morgan had a great play at shortstop. This is a big win in the conference for us.”
Covington will host Tri-Village Thursday, while Miami East plays Belmont Wednesday before traveling to Miami East Thursday.