No surprise anymore; Covington baseball improves to 3-1 in TRC


COVINGTON — At some point, it is going to stop being surprising.

The Covington baseball team may be young, but not without talent and great team chemistry.

The Buccs opened the season by handing Troy Christian its first ever loss in TRC play.

And on Monday, the Buccs faced one of the top pitchers in the conference in Riverside’s Warren Shockey and didn’t bat an eye.

The 4-2 victory over the Pirates moved Covington to 4-2 overall and 3-1 in the TRC — where the only unbeaten was Bethel, who beat Miami East Tuesday.

On Thursday, Covington beat Miami East and Bethel lost to Troy Christian — leaving the two teams tied for first atop the TRC.

“I think we are surprising people a little bit,” Covington coach Andy Johnson said. “We are a young team. But, this team is a great unit. This is a really good group of kids.”

Sophomore Ashton Skaggs battled for five innings against the Pirates and kept them off the scoreboard except for a misplayed fly ball that allowed two runs to score.

He combined with Carson Taylor — who threw two innings of hitless relief on a five-hitter, with the duo coming to strikeout three, while walking seven and hitting a batter.

“Basically, I was just trying to make them put the ball in play and let my defense make plays,” Skaggs said. “My defensive did a great job behind me.”

One such case was in the fourth inning when Riverside got two runs to cut Covington’s 4-0 lead in half — but the damage could have been worse.

With runners on first and third an no outs, Tanner Palsgrove fielded a slow roller at third, looked the runner back and fired to first baseman Jacob Tipps. The Riverside runner then tried to come home and Tipps threw a strike to catcher Trey Schmelzer to gun him down for a double play.

“That was a big play,” Johnson said. “That was just a heads up play with the guys knowing exactly what to do.”

Covington had taken the lead with some timely hitting off Shockey in the second and third innings to break up a scoreless game.

“We were facing a really good pitcher (Warren Shockey),” Johnson said. “But, we saw him last year. We knew what to expect and we hit some balls hard at the right time.”

In the third, Carter Owens reached on an error and Connor Humphrey had an infield single.

Grant Blore drilled a RBI single and with two out, Taylor was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Tyler Jay drilled a shot down the left field line to score Humphrey and Blore and make it 3-0.

“Tyler Jay always has the ability to come up with a big hit,” Johnson said.

In the third, Owens singled and would score from second on Blore’s second RBI single of the game.

“Grant Blore is always going to find a way to make contact,” Johnson said. “He does a great job of protecting at the plate with two strikes.”

The defense and Humphrey and Taylor did the rest.

“At the beginning of the season, I knew we were a really young team,” Skaggs said. “I think we have surprised people. But, I felt like we could win every game in the conference. Obviously, we can’t because we lost to Milton-Union. But, I feel like we can win every conference game the rest of the year.”

And at some point, it will no longer be a surprise.

Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at [email protected]

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