Blazers rolling in CCC, still in contention for title

By Eddie Mowen Jr. -

National Trail freshman Hunter Lee “did a nice job at his varsity start at first,” interim Coach and Superintendent Jeff Parker said.

NEW PARIS — National Trail kept its hopes alive for a conference title last week by going 3-0 in the Cross County Conference.

The Blazer baseball team improved to 4-1 in the CCC.

“Anytime you can go 3-0 for the week in CCC play, it is a pretty successful week. I really like the way we approached each game as each game was just a little different. One of the things I’ve really tried to emphasize is that baseball requires a calm approach no matter the situation and based on the week we just had, it was evident the players did an excellent job of responding,” said National Trail interim head coach Jeff Parker, who is also the school’s superintendent.

Trail opened the week with a home game against Ansonia and came away with a 5-3 win on Tuesday, April 12..

Ansonia jumped out to an early 3-0 lead through the top of the 4th. The Blazers stayed calm, chipped away and ended up with the win.

Logan Pettit stayed steady on the mound, walking just two, giving up three hits through 5 2/3 innings.

“Michael Bane and Billy Lanman showed senior leadership by example by coming in and slamming the door on Ansonia in the sixth and seventh innings,” Parker said.

Bane picked up the win and Lanman earned the save.

Freshmen Hunter Lindsey, Pettit and Lanman produced key RBIs in the comeback. Angel Garabito and Chip Parker worked the Ansonia pitchers for five of the seven walks they tossed and helped drive the starter’s pitch count up. Travis Hunt and Lanman also collected four of NT’s seven steals for the game.

On Thursday, Trail shutout visiting Bethel, 2-0 behind a strong pitching performance from Lanman.

“Billy Lanman pitched a gem. He had great command of all of his pitches. His demeanor on the mound is exactly what you expect of a ballplayer who is going to play at the next level (Wright State University-Lake),” Parker said. “He set the tempo for the rest of us and the guys just stayed steady and calm. Coach Davidson summed it up the best with the team afterwards, ‘That was what a good baseball game looks like.’”

Pettit continued his timely production as he picked an RBI in the first inning and Trey Mann knocked in the second run in the fourth. Mann and Michael Bane had two hits each. Garabito, Hunt and Dom Huffman added hits. Huffman added two walks as he reached base three times.

At Covington, on Friday, the Blazers jumped out to an early lead and held on for an 8-6 win.

NT jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning.

According to Parker, the Covington pitcher made some nice adjustments and it took until the fourth for NT to play add-on. By this time Covington had cut the deficit to 4-2. NT added another in the fifth and the sixth to go up 8-2. NT held on as Covington added one in the bottom half of the sixth and three in the seventh.

“It was the third different kind of win of the week as we held on. Sometimes these kind of games in the late innings can rattle your nerves, especially when you’re on the road,” Parker said. “It wasn’t the case this time, as once again everyone reacted calmly and we got the job done. Just like Billy exemplified calm under pressure vs. Bethel, Michael Bane did against Covington. When you watch Michael on the mound, you don’t know if he just struck out a hitter or gave up a hit, which is exactly the way it is suppose to be.”

Trail closed out the week on Saturday with a doubleheader split with Valley View.

The Blazers took game one 8-3 and dropped the second, 1-5.

In the opener, Pettit hurled his second consecutive solid performance of the week as he went the distance and controlled the SWBL opponent.

“Logan did a nice job of keeping Valley View hitters off balance,” Parker said.

Pettit struck out six and spread out seven hits, but more importantly he only walked two. Pettit gave up a run in each of the first three innings and with the help of solid defense, shut the door on the Spartans the rest of the way.

Lanman and Pettit led the way offensively as Lanman went 3-4 with a double and two runs scored. Pettit added two hits and two RBIs. Huffman, Bane and Garabito contributed hits to the Blazer eight-hit attack.

“We had a number of players with quality ABs, who reached base and those who did not. Trey Mann had four excellent plate appearances despite the fact he didn’t have a hit. His ABs took a toll on their pitcher and helped out his teammates,” Parker said.

“Defensively, we played very solid in game one. Freshmen Hunter Lee had a couple nice picks on throws and he made a couple of solid plays to his right,” Parker said. “He did a nice job in his varsity start at first (base).”

In the second game, the Blazers allowed seven first inning runs and never recovered.

“The second game with VV was the only sloppy game of the week that we played. It wasn’t lack of effort. I think it was playing tired, especially after they put a seven spot on us in the first inning.,” Parker said. “We tried to chip away, but we just couldn’t get over the hump.”

Freshmen Travis Hunt and Hunter Lindsey were highlights on the mound. Hunt came in during the secnod inning and gave NT a chance at a comeback. He gutted through five innings, giving up four hits and no earned runs. Lindsey pitched a 1-2-3 seventh and looked promising in the process, according to Parker.

Offensively, Chip Parker led the way for Trail with two hits, including a double and two RBI. Dom Huffman continued his increasing torrid on base percentage with a hit and two walks in four plate appearances. The lone time he didn’t reach base he hit a hard line drive right at the third baseman. Lanman, Bane, Mann and Hunt added hits.

“Defensively as a team, all week, we played very well (with the exception of game two versus VV.) Billy made a couple of outstanding plays at short during the week that picked our pitchers up. Michael has been the ultimate team player, by playing first (a position he never played before Ansonia,) short, catcher, and of course picking up the two Ws on the mound,” the coach said. “Chip has been very steady at second base since the first week and had a couple throwing assists on relays to third and home. Finally, Dom has been unbelievable behind the plate all week. Just a tough kid.”

This week, the Blazers are scheduled to play Dayton Christian, Miami East, Randolph Southern (Indiana), Seton Catholic (Indiana) and Preble Shawnee.

National Trail freshman Hunter Lee “did a nice job at his varsity start at first,” interim Coach and Superintendent Jeff Parker said. Trail freshman Hunter Lee “did a nice job at his varsity start at first,” interim Coach and Superintendent Jeff Parker said.

By Eddie Mowen Jr.

Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.

Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.