By Rob Kiser
DAYTON — Covington assistant baseball coach Andy Johnson put his record on the line in a Cross County Conference natchup up with Newton at Fifth Third Field Friday.
And despite an early 5-0 deficit, the Buccaneers were able to rally for a 12-6 win iver the Indians (8-6) to improve to 6-7 overall and 5-2 in the CCC.
“Actually, this is my second win,” Johnson, who was coaching for Mitch Hirsch who had surgery Friday, said with a smile. “It didn’t look good early.”
Newton pitcher Austin Evans blanked Covington through the first two innings, and the Indians had taken advantage of Covington walks and errors.
“Levi (Winn) didn’t have it tonight,” Johnson said. “But the defense might have had something to do with that. Unfortunately, we have had a few games that started like that this year and didn’t end well. Tonight, we were able to respond.”
The game swung when Covington scored five runs in the top of the third to tie it.
Nine-hitter Noah Thomas, who reached base and scored in all four at bats, started things with a base hit.
“Noah (Thomas) can do just about anything he wants to do,” Johnson said. “He is starting to gain some confidence at the plate.”
After an error, Coleman Ryan had a single and Nathan Blei and Tristan Sowers would both have two-run singles in the rally, while in-between Mason Dilley brought in a run on a fielder’s choice.
A bases-loaded walk to Andrew Dilts gave Newton a 6-5 lead in the home third.
Sowers entered with one out and the bases loaded and got two outs and pitched 4 2-3 innings of scoreless, hitless baseball for Covington.
“Tristan (Sowers) really stepped up for us tonight,” Johnson said. “He is really throwing the ball well. He is gaining more confidence with each outing.”
Covington would score in every inning after that.
In the fourth, Thomas doubled down the left-field line and scored on Ryan’s fielder’ choice to tie it at 6.
In the fifth, Winn doubled and scored on Sowers’ sacrifice fly to make it 7-6.
In the home fifth, Newton would threatened when Evans was hit by a pitch and Ryan Mollette walked. But with two outs, Winn snared Rhett Gipe’s shot to right field that appeared to be ticketed for extra bases.
“I was pretty confident Levi (Winn) would catch it even though he was that far back,” Johnson said.
Thomas started the sixth with a walk and James Grilliot and Ryan both had hits. A sacrifice fly scored one run and after Bryan Delcamp entered the game for Newton, a throwing error scored two more runs to make it 10-6.
In the seventh, Covington added two runs on a balk and a wild pitch to finish off the 12-6 win, with Thomas and Ryan both having hits in the inning.
In the first inning, Newton took advantage of three walks — including a bases loaded one to Nelson Clymer to make it 1-0.
The Indians added four more in the second before Covington rallied. Covington had two errors in the inning. Wade Ferrell had a RBI single in the inning, while Evans and Gipe also had hits.
With Newton leading 4-0 with runners on second and third with one out, Treg Jackson put down a bunt. Gipe scored on the play and after Covington got the out at first, they threw home to Ferrell trying to score from second for an inning-ending double play.
Winn and Sowers combined on a five-hitter, striking out six, walking nine and hitting one batter.
Evans and Delcamp scattered 12 hits, striking out three, walking five and hitting a batter.
Rob Kiser can be reached at (937) 451-3334.