COVINGTON — It had been a long, tough week.
Highland was swept in a Pioneer District doubleheader at district-leading Narrows last Tuesday and was walked-off on Thursday in Hot Springs by Bath County.
Friday, at Casey Field, the Rams came out swinging.
The visitors scored four times in the top of the first and four more in the second to complete the season-sweep of Covington with a 9-5 Pioneer District baseball win.
Evan Kimble led the winners with three hits and Colton Williams added two hits and drove in three runs for Highland, which improved to 6-5 in the Pioneer and 9-8 overall with the victory and secured a first-round home game in the Pioneer District tournament.
“Last night at Bath, I told them to remember how this feels,” said HHS coach J.D. Hiner. “They (the Chargers) were taking pictures with the scoreboard, telling us they killed more bucks, caught more fish. I wanted them to take all that in and feel it. Today, we came out, put the ball in play and scored some runs early. I’m proud of these guys.”
At the top of Hiner’s list Friday had to be Michael Campbell.
Campbell, who had thrown just eight innings all year, went the distance on the mound for the Rams, scattering nine Cougar hits, striking out three, and relying on a defense that made nearly every play behind him.
“When Ethan (Moore) went out (with an injury), Michael had big shoes to fill,” Hiner said. “He stepped up and our defense stepped up and made plays.”
Landon Arritt took the loss for the Cougars, allowing eight runs (six earned) in one-plus innings of work. Garrett Carper pitched the final six frames for Covington, checking Highland on one run and four hits.
“We dug a hole, they scored eight in the first two innings,” said Cougar coach Kevin Hall. “There at the end we had some chances, but we hit some hard balls right at them.”
Ethan Martin hit four on the nose for Covington and went 3-for-4 with three doubles. Trey Cook added a couple of hits and Hayden Rodgers, Arritt, Luke Conner and Eli Dressler had one each.
Martin had an RBI double in the first, Cook and Dressler both drove in runs with singles in the sixth, Carper had an RBI fielder’s choice in the sixth, and Cook drove in another with a single to right in the seventh.
“Ethan Martin had a heck of a game,” said Hall. “He hit four balls hard, had three doubles and the other one was a line drive. I thought Garrett came in and pitched well. We just couldn’t pull a whole game together.”
Campbell, Eli Moore and Zack Wright all had base hits for the Rams to support the big day with the bat from Williams and Kimble.
Williams and Moore had RBI singles in the first for Highland and two more scored when Patton Hull’s groundball was thrown away at first.
Zach Armstrong drew a bases-loaded walk in the second for the visitors, Williams drove home two with a single to right-center, and a Kimble groundout plated another.
Campbell scored in the third when John Wagner reached on an error.
Williams elevated his gaudy RBI total to 28 on the season in just 17 games.
“Colton spent advanced PE today in the cage,” Hiner said. “It paid off for him.”
The Rams were at home against Blue Ridge Christian on Tuesday and finish the regular season today at Parry McCluer.
Covington (1-8 Pioneer District, 3-14 overall) closes its regular season with three games in three days this week. The Cougars were at Narrows on Tuesday, at home against Bath County on Wednesday and are at Craig County today.
The Pioneer District tournament is scheduled to start next Tuesday with first-round games. The semifinals are set for next Thursday with the championship and consolation games on Monday, May 22.
Last Friday’s Linescore
Highland 441 000 0 - 9 8 2
Covington 100 003 1 - 5 9 2
WP: Michael Campbell (2-0); LP: Landon Arritt (2-3)