By Rob Kiser
There were a lot of positives for the Piqua baseball team in the season opener with Springoboro at Hardman Field in Brad Lavey’s debut as coach Saturday.
But, the Panthers used two runs in the fifth and three runs in the sixth to break a 1-1 deadlock and win 6-2.
“Springboro is always a real strong team,” Lavey said. “So, they are a great team to measure where we are at.”
Blake Wright pitched the first five-plus innings, allowing just eight hits.
“I don’t really want to single anybody out,” Lavey said. “But, Blake (Wright) did a nice job on the mound and threw well.”
Piqua had taken a 1-0 lead in the first when Ethan Garland had a base hit and came around to score on a passed ball.
Springboro got a single run in the third to tie it.
Piqua missed two big opportunities in the fourth and fifth.
In the fourth, Garland doubled and Travis Smith singled with no outs.
But, the Indians were unable to plate a run, as Springboro starter Daniel Earles got two strikeouts and a pop up to get out of the inning.
“Timely hitting is a big part of baseball,” Lavey said.
Springboro took the lead in the fifth.
After Cameron Rountree singled, Justin McConnell reached on a fielder’s choice.
Ethan Brickler and Jacob Beachy followed with RBI doubles to give Springboro a 3-1 lead, before Wright got a strikeout and ground out to end the threat.
Piqua again missed a golden opportunity in the home fifth.
With one out, Spencer Lavey reached on an error and Owen Toopes singled. An error put runners on second and third with one out.
Lavey would score on a wild pitch to make it 3-2 and after Cory Cottrell walked and stole second, Piqua had the tying and go-ahead runs on second and third.
Tyler Kean came on in relief for Springboro and got back-to-back strikeouts to end the rally.
“We definitely missed some opportunities out there today,” Lavey said. “Our batting wasn’t where we need it to be.”
Springboro then put the game away with a three-run sixth.
Tre Poster started things with a single and Hunter Moss followed with a one-out RBI double.
Travis Smith replaced Wright on the mound and Rountree followed with a two-run homer to make it 6-2.
Smith held Springboro scoreless the rest of the way, but Piqua was unable to score again.
“We definitely had some chances today,” Lavey said. “But, we knew Springboro was going to be a big challenge to start the season.”
The Indians have a busy week ahead — starting with a road game Monday at Fairmont — looking to build on a number of positives from the season opener.