Their 19-2 mark has them ranked #4 in the state in Division IV. But is their record deceiving, based on the strength of schedule? It doesn’t seem to matter to Dave King and the Lehman Cavaliers.
Sidney – On a horrid night for baseball, temperatures plunging and the wind gusting above 25 miles per hour, the Lehman Cavaliers scored their latest run rule win of the season Monday, a 10-0 job in five innings over the Lima Perry Commodores.
They did it in typical Lehman fashion. They got strike-throwing pitching from unbeaten righthander Parker Riley (8-0 now for the year).
They made the most of the six hits they got off Perry starter Austin Money, coupled with nine walks and five passed balls. The Commodores (10-6) had some issues, obviously, with their battery. Dave King’s Cavaliers scored two in the first, three in the third, and five more in the bottom of the fifth when things crumbled for the outclassed Perry.
They played good enough defense, Dylan Arnold making a couple of nice plays at shortstop; and, they closed out the top of the fifth with a rare double-play in which they trapped two Perry runners off base and retired both via rundowns. The Commodores had some issues, too, with their base-running.
It marked Lehman’s 19th win of the season, against two losses. They lead the area in run-rule victories, and it added fuel to the argument of some that the Cavs’ #4 ranking (last week) was somewhat deceiving, given their strength of schedule. They own a 30-1 win over Hardin Northern, a 22-0 win over Botkins, and a 21-0 win over Waynesfield-Goshen. Their average margin of victory in those 19 wins has been in double digits – 12.6 runs in 16 of the 19.
Parker Riley was again “something else” in the words of his coach. He threw strikes, he threw the breaking pitch for strikes, and he was efficient. He finished his five innings of work having thrown just 49 pitches. By comparison, Perry starter Austin Money threw 40 pitches alone in the first inning. Riley doesn’t throw particularly hard, but he does throw accurately. More than one Perry hitter came back to the dugout emphasizing that fact. “He throws strikes,” said one. “Might as well go up there swinging.” Parker struck out five…and walked none!
Still, there are those who are cynical about just how good this latest Dave King edition really is. Winners of multiple sectional and district titles in his decade at Lehman, King is not concerned.
“It’s a typical Lehman team, like I’ve always had,” he joked in the howling winds Monday, after his latest win. “I don’t have the big guns we’ve had, by comparison this is a team of no-names. There is no Max Schutt or Dave Spearman, just a group of good kids that are coachable. Parker Riley is something else on the mound, and everyone else just grips a bat.”
To the issue of his schedule, and how credible many of those 19 wins really are, King does not mince words.
“Perry isn’t a great team, but I respect them. They had a credible pitcher tonight who had a good fastball and a curveball that fooled us. He just had trouble throwing strikes in the first inning and that was to our advantage. We took advantage of those mistakes.
“But look, I don’t take anyone for granted. We have to come out everyday with our ‘A’ game because everyone wants to beat us. We’re no different than the Shelby County League. Everyone wants to be Anna and Loramie in that league. In baseball you can get beat by anyone, and I’ve been beat already by everyone, it seems.”
Again on Sunday, King and the Cavaliers were awarded the #1 seed in their upcoming sectional tournament. They’ve come close in the past, losing in the regional finals. But as the wins mount up King is still looking for that break-through that would send Lehman to Columbus to compete for the Division IV title.
“I don’t think there’s any pressure with it,” said King. “Look, I think we’ve already lived up to the expectations over the years. We’ve taken some big hits in terms of graduation. And when you’re a small school you can’t lose Bosways, Schutts, and Spearmans and try to replace them with 120-pounders. We’re just excited to play, we’ll try to play to the best of our ability, and if we don’t hit we’ll try to throw strikes and play defense.”
The leader on this team is obviously senior Parker Riley, who punctuated his latest pitching triumph Monday with a pair of hits and a run scored. Like his coach, he’s unfazed by any questions about competition and how they’ve won.
“I really trust my teammates,” he said, taking time from his post-game grounds crew duties. Even winning pitchers are handed a rake when you play for Lehman.
“I think if you can throw strikes and play defense you’ve got a chance, and that’s what we try to do. We’ve got some good wins over good teams and when we play better teams that’s what we’ll do.”
“Our situation is no different than other leagues,” concluded King, who’s no quaking violet when it comes to talking about his baseball team. “In the Shelby County League the big three (Anna, Loramie and Russia) beats up on the others. In the GWOC Vandalia Butler has their way with the lesser teams. I think anywhere you go you’re going to find that.”
What you won’t find…is another Dave King!