They mustered on rally in the middle of the game, then another one to force extra innings. Covenant’s baseball team showed poise and fight against Bishop Ireton with a pitching staff by committee that never included either of its two starters. But in the end, in a game where both teams had mistakes open up doors for the other, the Cardinals were able to squeak past the Eagles with an unearned run on a pop fly error in the top of ninth to win 10-9.
“It was a wild game where both teams had plenty of opportunities and both teams handed the other team plenty of opportunities to win, so we’re happy to have won and not last, but I think both teams can take a lot away from today,” said Ireton coach Michael Gallagher. “That’s what these early non-conference games are for, what they’re all about — learning how to get better.”
Covenant’s well rounded offense endured a slow start, failing to score in the first three innings while Ireton rolled to a 4-0 start through the top of the fourth. However, the Eagles instantly rallied in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game behind a bases loaded single from Lee Coppock that was followed immediately by a fielding error that scored three runs. In the very next at bat, Chris Shifflett reached base on an error that scored Coppock to make tie it up. An inning later, Covenant took a 5-4 lead after Sam Patterson reached base on double, and was brought home two batters later when Coppock reached first on an error.
Things quieted down quickly for both offenses as both teams relief arms and defenses held their cool. Just after the Eagles picked off a runner that reached base after getting hit by a pitch, the Cardinals tied the game when Jake Guttman hit a solo home run.
In the top of the eighth, Ireton took a 4-run lead on a raly that included an RBI single from Guttman and a 2-run double from Pat O’Connell.
Not to be outdone, Covenant mounted another comeback in the bottom of the eighth, getting Bradie Doyle to lead off the inning by taking first on a third strike in the dirt. Doyle took second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a groundout, and took home on yet another wild pitch. After Jesse Getchel reached first on an error, Sean Rutherford came through in the next at bat with an RBI triple. Sam Patterson then followed that up with a 2-run home run to force the ninth and final inning.
“We’re a battling bunch and we’ve got a lot of good hearted baseball players,” said Covenant coach Doug Smethurst. “We battled down from four runs twice today and I think that game could have gone either way, but they probably deserved to win. Still, if we’re here and play as hard as we can, I can get a good night’s sleep.”
Covenant’s defense provided two quick outs with the first two Ireton at bats in the top of the ninth, but a walk that followed proved costly. A misfielded fly ball from Corey Phillips to right field provided the last run of the game. Covenant led off the bottom of the ninth with a single, but the runner was picked off after two attempts the two of the next three batters grounded out and struck out.
For Covenant, Patterson had a busy day going 3 for 4 with two RBI and three runs. Clark Crutchfield was 3 for 5. Coppock was 1 for 5 with four RBI and Shifflett was 2 for 5 with an RBI.
The Eagles (7-3) travel to Miller on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.