NEW MIAMI — Danny Spivey hasn’t done a lot of pitching this season, but he found himself in a groove Wednesday.
The New Miami High School junior was thrilled to be dealing on the mound in a Division IV sectional baseball contest after battling arm problems throughout his prep career.
Spivey handled Miami Valley Conference rival Lockland with a 13-strikeout, four-hit performance as the host Vikings won their tournament opener 8-1.
“That’s the best I’ve felt in about six years. My arm feels amazing,” Spivey said. “I didn’t really want to pitch this year because my arm’s always been hurting the past couple years, but it’s feeling really good today. Baseball’s always a lot of fun. I love it.”
The right-hander also paced the offense with two singles, a double and three RBIs as No. 5 seed New Miami (9-11) earned a district semifinal matchup with top-seeded Cincinnati Christian at 5 p.m. on Monday at Wyoming.
The Vikings took a 16-2 pounding from CCS on March 29. New Miami coach Donnie Howard could’ve avoided the Cougars in the sectional draw, but he chose not to follow the 2, 3 and 4 seeds when they all went to the opposite bracket.
“I said, ‘What the heck. I’m going to at least get us a home game and a good win and then take our chances,’ ” Howard said. “Yes, CCS is favored, but they don’t scare our kids. I guarantee they’re going to play ball. They’re not going to roll over for them.”
Added Spivey, “I don’t want to be cocky or anything, but it’s going to be a good game. We’re going to give them a fight.”
The Vikings blanked Lockland 12-0 on April 11. The hosts were pretty much in control throughout Wednesday’s contest, although the sixth-seeded Panthers did cut the deficit to 6-1 in the sixth inning and left the bases loaded.
Lyndon Betts had two hits and plated the lone run for Lockland. Jonah Cromer pitched two-plus innings and took the loss, with Milan Schilling throwing the rest of the way.
Veteran Panthers coach Mark Ellis, also the school’s head football coach, said there’s no way he’s going to complain about his team’s 7-14 record. Lockland had eight players about a week before the season started.
“We were talking about not even having a season,” Ellis said. “It was sketchy going into that last week, but I ended up getting some football players to come out so we could have a season.
“It’s been a challenge trying to teach them how to play defense, how to run the bases, how to hit, but they kept trying. They kept getting better at making the routine plays, and we were able to win some games. We won a tournament game (against Gamble) on two passed balls.
“High school baseball is just something you can’t pick up that late and expect to be good and competitive. But I love these kids, and that’s what it’s all about. If you ask me my record, I couldn’t tell you and I don’t care. It’s about these kids. That’s where I come from.”
Robbie Hundley contributed two RBIs and Caleb Frost had two hits for New Miami. Frost and Jaden Phillips also drove in runs, and Louie Santiago and Donovan Howard both scored twice.
Spivey wasn’t far from reaching the Ohio High School Athletic Association limit of 125 pitches. He said he never wavered mentally, even when the Panthers started to make a little noise late in the game.
“I trusted my team,” Spivey said. “I believe in my team every game. Even if they make a couple errors, I know they’ve got my back.”
The Vikings played without shortstop/pitcher Trey Robinette, who’s nursing a foot injury. Donnie Howard is hoping he’ll be back for the CCS game.
The first-year New Miami coach said his young team probably should be above .500, “but I’m not going to be down on them. They’re tremendous kids and I love ’em to death. I’d put them up against anybody.”
Howard said Phillips will probably be his starting pitcher against Cincinnati Christian.
New Miami 132-002-x—8-8-1
WP — Danny Spivey (1-1); LP — Jonah Cromer. Records: L 7-14, N 9-11
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