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The Covington starter allowed just two hits as the Cougars claimed the regular-season district title.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
BUCHANAN — Tanner Paxton didn’t need a complicated strategy on the mound.
“I only threw fastballs and curve balls,” the Covington senior pitcher said. “Fastballs in and curve balls away.”
The strategy worked as Paxton allowed only two hits to Parry McCluer in a 3-0 Covington victory in a play-off game to determine the Pioneer District regular season champion and the top seed in the district tournament, which starts today in Low Moor.
For the first time in nine years, a team other than James River took the regular season trophy. The Knights, Fighting Blues and Cougars all finished with 6-2 district records and tied for first, but a new tie-breaking formula used this year in the Pioneer left one team out of a playoff using regional points earned through a variety of criteria. The Knights were the odd team out, taking the third seed into the tournament where they will face the Fighting Blues.
Covington (11-9) plays Bath County in the first round.
Covington coach Mick Strand said pitching and defense were the key.
“Tanner pitched well. He kept them off balance and we fielded well. We got key hits when we needed them,” Strand said.
Paxton kept the ball down and the Fighting Blues were only able to power three balls out of the infield. He only struck out one, but 16 outs were made in the infield. Terry Forbes, a fill-in at third base, recorded two put-outs and four assists, identical numbers to shortstop Colton Howard.
Only one Parry McCluer runner made it to third base in the game.
Covington plated a pair in the bottom of the first to take the early lead, then added another on an Ethan Hinton RBI singe in the fourth, the only RBI of the game.
Parry McCluer coach Jason Coleman said holding Covington to three runs was what he wanted from his defense, but the bats offered no support.
“You’re not supposed to lose a baseball game giving up three runs,” Coleman said. “Our team goal is four or less and he did that for us. But [Paxton] pitched well and they made the plays.”
Parry McCluer pitcher Josh Perry had a respectable outing, allowing three runs — two earned — and scattering seven hits. He went the distance.
Parry McCluer (8-8) has not won the regular season baseball championship in the Pioneer District since 1986, but two years ago they won the Region C Division 1 title.
“I joked with that team if they wanted to win the region instead of the district, that’s fine,” Coleman said. “This year we’ve got a tough go-round. This game could have punched our ticket, but we’ll see.”
Parry McCluer 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 2 2
Covington 2 0 0 1 0 0 x — 3 7 1
Paxton and Dressler; Perry and Henderson. WP - Paxton (4-1) LP - Perry (4-3)
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