NEWARK – At the age of 9, the agricultural division team at Licking Memorial Hospital won the North Newark title in the COVID shortened season of 2020, but couldn’t enjoy the ultimate prize.
The Licking County Sanctuary Tournament has been called off for the first time in 76 years. However, even as last season came to a close, LMH was thinking about 2021.
“Our goal last year was to win the Shrine Championship tonight, and you did it,” coach Jamie Cox told his team after scoring a convincing 12-2 four-set win over rival. of North Newark Dor-Mar Heating and Cooling Tuesday night at Mound Town. “We treated it like a five game business trip, to win the North Newark tournament and win the sanctuary, and you took care of business.”
“I’ve watched every championship game since 2015 so it means a lot,” said pitcher Cassius Fluharty, who has worn nine in four innings, walking three and allowing just three hits. “It was my dream,” added wide receiver Landon Cox, who doubled up and singles. “I hope we can do it for the next two years.”
Cox and Fluharty have been together since they were four or five. “I’ve coached these two in all sports, and they’re great athletes,” said Coach Cox. “They are absolute leaders, and we don’t get these wins without them. They were there, preparing their teammates for this game.”
The unbalanced result was unexpected, given that LMH and Dor-Mar had split their two games, both games into one point. But the champions ended the season on a roll, beating their last three opponents by a total of 43-4.
Quick starts fueled LMH’s streak of success, and Tuesday was no exception. They took a 3-0 lead in the first, even with two runners rejected on base. LMH took advantage of three Dor-Mar errors and Dayne Scott had a single RBI as they remained aggressive in their race.
They had four more runs in the third, as 8-year-old Layton Cox, playing in an age division, had a 2-point single down center and Scott added another two-run hit.
Fluharty assisted his own cause with a two-run single in the fourth, and Layton Cox followed with another two-run hit. He finished with four RBIs and Scott added three.
“Layton was the first kid to play all season at the age of 8 in North Newark,” said coach Cox. “He has a boastful air, and sometimes an older brother has to put him back in his place when needed.”
The future looks bright for Newark Catholic as the majority of the LMH roster is ready to become future members of the Green Wave. Some members of the NC university were even there to support them. “Most of them grew up together so that helps,” said coach Cox.
Coach Cox later admitted he practices his team more than most, and thanked the parents for their patience. The players wouldn’t want it any other way.
“We were confident at the start that we could do it, just with the talent of our team,” said Fluharty. “We like him to be harder on us because it makes us better. He corrects what we do wrong.”
“If we try to work, we knew we had a good chance of winning,” Landon Cox said.
Despite the loss, Dor-Mar coach Steve Brewer was really proud of his team. Tyree Whetstone had a single with two outs and two runs in the fourth quarter, scoring Aaron Hoffman and Robert Ghiloni and avoiding the shutout.
“No one thought we would be here today except us,” Brewer said. “We lost four straight games to start the season. It shows how hard they’ve fought to get here. Tyree is the first 9-year-old I’ve had a home run. His future is bright, s’ he decides to stay with her, as is the case with many of our children. “
In the consolation match between two Heath teams, Mills Insurance whipped Coldwell Banker 15-2. Robby Smeigh not only hit a Grand Slam homerun, but also struck out 10 batters on the mound as Mills grabbed third place.
Thursday’s 8pm Varsity Championship showdown sends another Heath team, Moundbuilders Motor Group, against Mound City Wright Brothers Power. In the 5:30 a.m. consolation match, two North Newark clubs clash as Edward Jones, who won the title in 2019, faces Dor-Mar.
Twitter: @ noz75