Baseball: Lehman Catholic focusing on consistency


SIDNEY — Lehman Catholic is focusing on progress this season, particularly at the plate. They’ve gotten some lessons early in the season, including Thursday night.

The Cavaliers didn’t manage a hit in an 8-0 loss to Miami East and fell to 5-4 overall and 2-3 in Three Rivers Conference play. It broke a two-game winning streak for Lehman, which beat Jackson Center 3-1 on Saturday and Milton-Union 6-4 on Tuesday.

Lehman entered Thursday’s game with a .250 batting average, which slipped against the Vikings (10-1, 6-1 TRC).

“Good pitching does dominate,” Lehman interim coach Dave King said. “… We’re scraping all we can with the pitching we’ve got. We try to bust hard on our pitchers, try to throw strikes and play defense. When you don’t hit, it’s hard.

“What I’m most frustrated about is, while the kids can’t play perfect, they can play better than they did today. …The plays that we missed today really, really hurt us. We’ve got to play good defense, because it does tax our pitchers for pitch count.”

King is acting as head coach after retiring in 2019 following a 12-year stint at Lehman. He previously coached 25 years at Sidney and two years at Jackson Center. He is filling in for Mark Brunswick, who is dealing with health issues.

“We need Mark back. He’s the coach, and he’s got some issues he’s dealing with. We’re praying for him,” King said.

Senior first baseman JD Barhorst and sophomore Turner Lachey have led the Cavaliers at the plate. Barhorst, who is back after recovering from an injury sustained in football, had a .429 average entering Thursday. Lachey, a sophomore shortstop, had a team-best .500 average and .667 on-base percentage.

Lachey was 4 for 5 in Tuesday’s win over Milton-Union.

“Turner is a competitive player in all sports,” King said. “… He’s off to a good start. He’s our leadoff, shortstop and he’s trying to give us some pitching.

“… We’ve got a lot of good kids. We have a good mesh, but we just can’t put our hitting together, especially against good pitching.”

King also credited first-year catcher Dillon Schmiesing, a junior, for playing well.

Junior pitcher and infielder/outfielder Korban Schmiesing has led the team on the mound. He has a 1.69 ERA in 20 2/3 innings of work with 28 strikeouts. He also has a .348 batting average.

Schmiesing pitched a complete game on Tuesday and gave up one earned run on four hits and four walks while striking out seven batters.

“He’s our bulldog pitcher,” King said. “He competes in there, and when he pitches, we have a good chance to win.”

Miami East leadoff hitter Luke Hamaker reached second base on an error in the outfield in the first inning and was able to score on an error after a single by Keidin Pratt. The Cavaliers finished with three errors.

“Some routine plays, we didn’t make them today,” King said. “Most teams we play, they’ll make those plays. We drop a pop up behind the plate, start right off the bat with a backpedal ball going over our head. We have to make those plays.”

Miami East’s Vicent Crane hit a grand slam in the third which pushed the lead to 5-0. The Vikings added another run after a passed ball in the fourth and scored one run in each the sixth and seventh.

Senior Seth Knapke was charged with the loss. He pitched four innings and gave up four earned runs on six hits and three walks.

“I thought Knapke was a little off today,” King said. “His breaking pitches weren’t getting over.”

Hamaker started and pitched five innings; he walked two batters and struck out seven. Connor Apple and Kolten Gustin each pitched one inning in relief and each struck out one batter.

Lehman is scheduled to travel to Tipp City Bethel (7-3, 5-0) for a TRC game. Bethel, which beat Miami East 2-1 last week, is in first place in the conference. Miami East and Troy Christian (5-2, 5-1) are right behind.

“They dominated today,” King said of Miami East. “My hat’s off to their pitching. They have a real good team. We have to scrape for wins. One good thing is we come back tomorrow and play a team (Bethel) that beat them tomorrow, so we have another opportunity. We’ve just got to keep going.”

Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.

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