BAINBRIDGE -- It was a setup that had all the markings of a classic finish. North Putnam had the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning with the score tied at three. One of the Cougars' most powerful hitters was at the plate.
But in less-than-climactic fashion, the Covington pitcher walked the Cougars' Griffen Dahlstrom, sending J.T. Francies home for the winning run. The Cougars had a 4-3 walk-off win.
Exciting or not, it was a win in a tough game, so no one was complaining.
Fish was proud of Berry's team-first attitude.
"No kid loves hitting gap doubles and swinging the bat more than Jordan Berry, and I had to ask him to squeeze in the seventh. He said, 'Fine, I'll do whatever I have to do to help us win.' He gets the bunt down and gets the tying run in to help us win," Fish said.
It was that brand of selflessness as well as senior leadership that got the Cougars to their third win of the season.
"Today, all four seniors (came through)," Fish said. "Without them, this is a different ball game for different reasons. One is stepping up and making the plays. The other big thing was keeping our team in a position where they didn't panic. You could tell they knew they were going to have a chance to win this ball game."
David Church, in his first start as a varsity pitcher, gave the Cougars more than five quality innings while surrendering just three hits. If not for a couple of defensive miscues in the sixth, Fish thought he could have finished the game.
"He looked awful good out there today for his first appearance. He had great control and did an excellent job," Fish said. "If we make a couple of routine plays, David Church throws a complete game, which I would've bet a million dollars he'd have never done in his first game."
But the Cougar defense opened the sixth with a misplayed grounder and an error on a fly ball. When Church walked the bases loaded, Fish called on fellow senior Kyle Rooker.
"Kyle Rooker -- I can't say enough about him. He's been struggling with his arm for a couple of years and he comes in to help his team out and looks good. He went out there for the team; he didn't do it for himself," Fish said.
Although the first batter Rooker faced collected a two-RBI triple, he did not surrender another hit in two innings and kept North in a position to make its comeback. He struck out one in two solid innings to get the win.
Offensively, Rooker was also the day's star. He doubled to drive in Francies in the first and led off the fourth with a homer to put the team ahead 2-1.
Francies, the fourth senior, was hitless, but got on base twice and found a way to score both times.
"I can't say enough about the seniors. All of them found a way to come in and help, Fish said.
For Covington, starter Cyle Knecht went five innings, allowing four hits and two runs while fanning six. Reliever Nick Paris allowed no hits in one-and-two-thirds innings, but walked five and allowed two runs to take the loss.
On the day, Fish was happy with how his entire team performed.
"Everybody stepped up and played great. Our defense was good except for that one inning," he said.
In a mix of veterans and new players, the coach said his older guys are carrying the weight they have to at this point. He looks for this load to lighten as the season progresses.
"Our first five or six guys with experience are really carrying this for the guys who need to get experience. That's the way it's going to be for a few weeks, and then we should get more solid and consistent as the season goes on," Fish concluded.
North Putnam hosts Speedway in a WCC game today at 5 p.m.
At North Putnam
Covington 001 002 0 -- 3 4 3
North Putnam 100 100 2 -- 4 4 3
Knecht, Paris (6) and Williams; Church, Rooker (6) and Berry.
WP -- Rooker (1-0).
LP -- Paris.
2B -- French (C), Rooker (NP).
3B -- French (C).
HR -- Rooker (NP).
Next game -- North Putnam (3-0, 2-0 WCC) hosts Speedway at 5 p.m. today.