It was Senior Night for Covington on Thursday Night at Jimmy “Doc” Davis Field.
The Lions made sure to make it a memorable one.
Covington scored seven runs in the fourth inning to pull away for an 11-5 victory over Mandeville to claim its second straight District 6-5A title.
“I thought we came out and played very well tonight,” Covington coach Jeff Dragg said.
“If you can’t get up for a district championship type game … I mean that’s why we play. We sign up for this type of atmosphere to play Mandeville for a district championship.”
Covington improved to 20-9 and 10-4 in district play.
It was their first time repeating as district champs since Dragg played for his father Johnny in 1996 and 1997.
“It feels great to win it twice,” said senior third baseman Tyler Thompson, who led the offense with three hits.
Mandeville, meanwhile, fell to 4-26 and 3-11 on a day the LHSAA penalized the Skippers for using an ineligible player. Freshman Fritz Walker, who didn’t meet the LHSAA’s residency requirements, played in 25 games this season for the Skippers. Mandeville must forfeit its eight wins (including five district games) that Walker played in. Mandeville coach Mark Weinmunson said the school will appeal the decision Friday morning.
“I think the team has been handling everything fine for the last week, week and a half,” Weinmunson said. “We just laid an egg tonight. We didn’t compete. We kicked the ball around, and we didn’t have good at-bats. That’s not a good combination.”
If the ruling is overturned, Covington will win the district title outright. If not, they will share the district crown with Fontainebleau. Covington swept the season series, winning 6-4 in the first meeting.
The Lions trailed 3-2 in the fourth. They sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning and scored seven runs. They took advantage of three walks and a hit batter in the inning. Then, with runners on second and third, Ty Loyd hit a single to center that got past Brant Moisant. Loyd scored on the play, pushing Covington’s lead to 9-3.
Seniors Kelly Caldwell, John Brogden, Braden Vessier, Todd Glass, Tyler Robbins, and Zach Dale and Thompson were recognized during a pregame ceremony.
“Three years in row they got 20 wins,” Dragg said. “We were floating a little bit in the middle of this district, and now we are starting to go to the upper end of that. You can thank the seniors for that. They are a fun bunch.”
Mandeville got off to a good start, scoring in the first when John Laws belted an RBI single to left field.
Covington starting pitcher Chris Bodet didn’t make it through the inning. He gave up two hits and walked a pair of batters before being replaced with two outs by left-hander Jonathan Brogden.
Covington answered in the second, taking the lead on a pair of wild pitches by Mandeville’s Justin Nussbaum.
Mandeville regained the lead in the fourth on a two-run double by Drew Graham, the Skippers’ No. 9 hole hitter. But the Lions then answered with their big inning.
“To come back and answer there was huge,” Dragg said. “To put up a 7-spot against a pitcher like (Justin) Nussbaum is huge.”
Bodet, Brogden and Trace Rainey pitched for the Lions. Rainey got out of a bases load jam in the fifth to keep the Skippers at bay.
Loyd, Tyler Smith and Matt Jones had two hits each for the Lions. They outhit the Skippers 12-7.
Covington finishes the regular season on Saturday at home against Lakeshore.