BRANDT - It was the type of game any baseball enthusiast would hate to see either team lose.That’s because both Covington and Bethel put it all on the line hoping to advance to the sectional final next Monday against Ben Logan, who beat Anna 7-0.
The game started on Wednesday under a steady drizzle that eventually led to the game being called after a scoreless eight innings of play.
It was finished on Thursday with Bethel scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth for a 1-0 win.
In the process, fans witnessed some of the best pitching and defense you will see at the high school level.
For Covington, senior Jensen Wagoner was magical as he tossed six perfect innings, not allowing a single base runner. His perfect game was ended in the bottom of the seventh as Bethel’s Luke Gray connected on a base hit to left field. Wagoner shut down the next three batters in a one-hit performance as he was forced to turn the ball over to fellow senior Kody Nelson due to the pitch count rules. Wagoner had 13 strikeouts.
Bethel was equally impressive as Luke Gray started the game and threw five innings. He allowed just two hits in his time on the mound.
Braylon Schroeder came in and picked up where Gray left off - keeping the Buccaneer hitters off balance. The Bethel duo combined to strike out 12 batters.
However, Covington had two golden opportunities to score before the game went into extra innings.
First, the Buccaneers had runners at the corners with one out in the fifth, but couldn’t get the big hit to put a runner across the plate.
Then, in the top of the seventh Kody Nelson drew a one out walk and Tanner Palsgrove moved him to third on a double. Bethel intentionally walked Jensen Wagoner to load the bases with one out.
Unfortunately for the Buccs, two hard hit balls were caught in the outfield by Bethel to end the threat.
Bethel led off the bottom of the seventh with a big hit of its own, but Nelson and the Buccaneer defense made the plays needed to keep the score deadlocked at 0-0 as the rain began to increase. The big play in the inning came on a long drive by Bethel to left field where Michael Hagan chased the ball down for the third out.
The two teams battled in the eighth without any luck as the field became a dangerous situation with the increased precipitation. The umpires confered with the coaches and rightfully decided to delay the game due to player safety.
Both teams returned on Thursday with Covington coming to the plate in the top of the ninth. After holding the Buccaneers in check, the Bees started its at bat with a lead-off walk by Grant Bean. He then stole second and Noah McCann connected on a deep shot to center field to score Bean and end the game.
Yes, it was a huge win for Bethel and a heartbreaking defeat for Covington.
But in the grand scheme of things, both teams can be extremely proud by how well they played through adverse circumstances.
Both teams were winners.