SIDNEY — Lehman Catholic struggled through last season and lost 11 games by four or more runs. The Cavaliers have already showed improvement through the first two games of the season in a pair of 4-3 losses.
But new coach Mark Brunswick said close losses aren’t the expectation, and he’s hoping the squad will be able to beat the Three Rivers Conference’s best teams by the end of the year.
“It’s better, but obviously we’re not there yet,” Brunswick said. “I’m not a moral victory type of guy. It’d sure be nice to get out there and get a W.”
The Cavaliers (0-2) lost 4-3 to Miami East (2-0) on Thursday in Sidney and lost by the same score at Milton-Union on Tuesday; both were TRC games.
Lehman lost one player to graduation off last year’s 4-19 team and has most of its roster back. Among the returnees is sophomore Korban Schmiesing, who was a second team all-TRC selection last year. Also back is senior David Brunner and junior JD Barhorst, who were each honorable mention all-TRC a year ago.
Schmiesing is an infielder and pitcher and started on the mound on Thursday. He pitched five innings and gave up three earned runs on six hits and two walks while striking out three batters. Barhorst pitched two innings in relief and gave up one hit.
“Korban was able to settle down on the mound,” Brunswick said. “JD came in and threw pretty well. I thought for the most part, our situational hitting was pretty good. I thought we made some nice plays in the field, too, against a good team. We hung with them.”
The Vikings scored one run on two hits in the top of the first, but Lehman drew two walks to start the bottom half of the inning, and junior third baseman Seth Kennedy hit a hard grounder to center for a single to drive in two runs and put the squad ahead 2-1.
Miami East started off the second with a single and a walk and scored two runs before the inning ended to take a 3-2 lead, then scored on a single and an error in the fourth to take a two-run lead.
Lehman’s best chance came in the sixth. Hayden Sever reached second on an error and Turner Lachey hit a single. Schmiesing hit a grounder to second to drive in Sever, but the Vikings turned a double play and got out of the inning without any more damage.
“The biggest thing I like is the kids are starting to progress, and they’re starting to understand how to play the game,” Brunswick said. “You’ve got to play the game for seven innings. You’ve got to value the ball. You’ve got to take care of the ball. You’ve got to got to do a good job in situational hitting, and you’ve got to get good pitching.
“You can see where we’re starting to get that, and you can see where we’re starting to get that little toughness edge to us.”
Brunswick is the son of former Coldwater coach Lou Brunswick, who amassed 750 wins as the program’s coach from 1969 to 1993. Mark Brunswick was drafted out of Coldwater in 1984 and said he played eight years in the Mets organization.
Brunswick coached at Bellefontaine from 1995 to 2010, Marysville from 2014 to 2018 and Bellefontaine from 2019 to 2021. He was a volunteer coach for the Chieftains last year and still teaches in the school district, but thought he had retried from being a head coach.
“I had a couple of people over here that I knew, and they needed a coach, so they pulled me out of retirement,” Brunswick said.
He’s being helped this season by former Lehman coach Dave King, who retired after the 2019 season following 12 years at the helm of the program.
Lehman is scheduled to host Tri-County North on Saturday morning and Fort Recovery on Monday evening before resuming TRC play on Tuesday by hosting Bethel.
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.