CEDARVILLE — The Cedarville Indians withstood a surprising Covington comeback, and coach Andy Pauling’s hair may have gotten a tinge more gray, in a wild 5-4 Division IV sectional baseball first round win on May 15 at Cedarville High.
“Covington battled back, and they just needed one more run. We were on the ropes,” Cedarville coach Andy Pauling said. “But fortunately, we were able to take advantage of one miscue. Covington misplayed one ball all day long, and that was the break we needed to win this one.”
Third-seeded Cedarville assumed control early in this ballgame, as Indians starting pitcher Caleb McKinion struck out the first eight Buccs batters he faced. McKinion had been cruising along with just two hits yielded through five innings of play, when Covington knocked three hits off the righthander to load the bases with one out in the sixth. McKinion fanned the next batter, then got the final out to fly out to right field to end the threat.
A lot of teams would’ve probably just mailed in the final inning, figuring they weren’t going to make up a four-run deficit in the game’s final inning of play. Covington’s not a lot of teams. The Buccs launched another hitting attack, this time chasing McKinion and reliever Colby Cross from the mound, scoring four runs to tie the game. Cedarville’s third pitcher of the game, Ben Supplee got Covington’s final out on a foul out to first baseman Hunter Baldwin.
The Indians (13-13) took advantage of Covington’s only error of the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Batting ninth in the lineup, Elijah Abel outraced a throw from the Buccs’ second baseman who had bobbled the ball long enough to be unable to get the throw to first in time to get Abel out. Abel then raced to third base on Caleb Criswell’s double to left, Covington intentionally walked Colby Cross, then C.J. Pahl made the Buccs pay for that move.
Pahl bashed the second pitch he saw deep into right field to score Abel with the game winning run. The entire Cedarville team raced out to right field and appropriately doused the senior catcher with their water bottles in celebration.
“My guys played their hearts out tonight,” Covington coach Andy Johnson said. “A lot of people doubted us all season long. We’d won one game all last year. And we’ve won six games this year. They’ve improved so much as a team, both ability wise and confidence wise. I’ve very proud of them.”
Covington should be even stronger in 2020. Gavin McReynolds, who made five putouts from third base for the Buccs, is the lone senior to play his final game.
Cedarville left the bases loaded without scoring early on, and Pauling reminded his troops of that fact after the game.
“I told them it was a good game, but they should’ve scored in the first inning so’s that comeback wasn’t a problem,” Pauling said. “… We missed some opportunities early.”
Cedarville will take on either top-seeded Tri-County North or No. 10 Southeastern in the sectional final, which is set for a 5 p.m. start on Monday, May 20 at Newton High School in Pleasant Hill.