MURFREESBORO – There were so many heartwarming story lines surrounding Covington’s 11-1 state title game win today over Forrest at MTSU’s Reese Smith Jr. Field, it’s hard to know where to start.
There was, of course, the plight of the Warmath family. Brad, the head coach, and his wife, Paige, have been battling life-threatening illnesses for several months. Brad rejoined the team as a coach three weeks ago and Paige has been along for the ride to today’s state title. Their son, Ty, is the team’s ace pitcher and one of its best hitters.
Kyle Ginn, who was injured during football, missed basically the entire baseball season. He struck out during his only at-bat of the season on senior night before hitting a towering two-run homer today over the left field wall to make the score 11-0 in the bottom of the fourth.
“I was like, ‘No way, now way, this is crazy,'” Ginn said after the game.
After his homerun, several Chargers were in tears as they watched their teammate round the bases. He was swarmed like he had hit a walk-off dinger.
And then there was Noah Walls, who suffered a serious knee injury earlier in the tournament. He pinch hit in the fourth, reached on an error and literally walked to second because that’s all he could do. He also got a huge ovation.
“It’s unreal, man,” said senior Christian Delashmit, who pitched Covington to a win in game two of the state tournament.
As for the details of today’s win, there were pretty simple.: Covington’s offense blitzed Forrest’s pitching from the start and Warmath was nothing short of dominant on the mound.
After Warmath shut down Forrest (19-15) in the top of the first, he led off the bottom of the inning with a rocket to right-center for a triple. It was the beginning of an offensive onslaught that produced 12 hits in four innings.
The first run scored on a ground ball by Brock Lomax and two more came in on a single from Rob Hendren. Landon Myers singled in two more moments later, the lead was 5-0 and it was pretty clear Covington (34-7) was going to be just about impossible to stop.
Weston Martin, Austin Baskin and Warmath each drove in a run in the third to push the lead to 8-0.
Even before Ginn’s bomb, the Covington coaches were talking amongst themselves. The gist of their conversation: This one is over.
While Covington’s offense was rolling, Warmath was plowing through Forrest’s lineup. He struck out eight, walked one and allowed just one hit. Forrest’s only run came in the fifth on an error.
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth and the game about to end via the 10-run rule, Lomax, the catcher, called for a meeting on the mound.
“I told them I loved them,” he said.
Two batters later Baskin caught a pop fly and the Chargers stormed the mound with the program’s third state title in hand.
“It’s been a special year, especially with everything that’s went on,” Baskin said. “I feel like it ended the right way. This was probably the only way it could end without tears. It was a fun ride. As soon as I caught it (the final out) and heard the fans roar it was insane.”
“There are so many things going through my head right now it’s hard to wrap my head around it,” Lomax said. “I’ve been to three straight state appearances (counting football) and hadn’t won one yet. I was ready to win one and we finally got it done today.”
Chris Messer served as the team’s interim head coach all year after joining the program as an assistant during the offseason.
“I’m happy to be here for Brad and his family and all these seniors,” Messer said. “This is a championship they’ve been chasing for a while. Brad deserves all the success and the players deserve all the credit.”
Covington went 4-0 during the state tournament and none of the games were close.
“We hit the baseball well, threw the baseball well and we played defense,” Brad said. “Obviously, if you take care of all three phases you’re going to give yourself a chance to win. That’s exactly what we did.”
After the celebration was over and everybody was leaving the stadium, Brad and Paige held hands as they made their way to the parking lot.
“I don’t even know how to put it into words,” Ty said. “My dad would always tell me when you’re in baseball think about baseball. You can deal with me and your mom when you get out of baseball. He got to come back just in time to share a special moment with us. Being able to hug him with a smile on his face that I saw, I’ll never forget it. I don’t even know what to say.”