Lakeview, Vogt blank Harvey
CORTLAND — Mike Johnson has some nervous habits that tend to surface during close games, but the Lakeview baseball coach prefers to keep them private — for reasons he chose not to disclose.
Maybe there was a bat throw or some baseballs kicked during the Bulldogs’ early-season struggles, but there was none of that Tuesday.
Johnson was admittedly nervous during Lakeview’s Division II sectional first-round matchup with Painesville Harvey, but Austin Vogt put his mind at ease.
Vogt struck out 14 in a two-hit shutout in which he carried the seventh-seeded Bulldogs to a 1-0 victory over No. 10 Harvey in Cortland.
“We know I’m the tense guy in the dugout all the time, but with him on the mound, it’s a little easier for me,” Johnson said. “I know that if a guy gets on base, he’s not going to be rattled, and he’s going to do his job. If there’s a guy on third base with one out, he’s going to get the strike out, and he’s going to produce the out we need to get the win.”
In fact, that’s exactly what the Lakeview ace did.
Leading 1-0 in the sixth inning, the Red Raiders (6-16) had a runner on third with one out after a single, a wild pitch and a ground out. Vogt dispatched of Harvey’s Nos. 2 and 3 hitters — both on strikeouts — to end the threat for Lakeview (13-12).
With control of all his pitches, Vogt said it was probably his best outing of the season.
“I really noticed it in my bullpen today,” said Vogt of having a good feel for several pitches. “Before the game, I always try and see which pitches are working, and the ones that are working really well, I throw on the mound. I just let my defense do the work behind me.”
There wasn’t much work to be had. The problem was, the Red Raiders’ pitchers were dealing as well.
The lone run came in the second inning, and Lakeview scored despite not tallying a hit. A walk and two errors loaded the bases with no outs, but a grounder to third base resulted in a force out at home. After a strikeout, it looked like Harvey might escape a major jam, but a wild pitch allowed Jake Wilms to score from third base.
“I knew coming in that they had a good pitcher,” Johnson said of Red Raiders right-hander Cameron Chappell. “Their first guy on the mound did a really good job, obviously, today. From his stats, it shows. …
“We had the bases loaded with no outs, and we only got one out of it,” he added. “I thought that was an opportunity with a big hit in that spot where we could break it open. But we actually got lucky on a passed ball and we scored on that. That was kind of comforting knowing that I have Vogt on the mound, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to throw a shutout today the way he was rolling. When we got one across, I was like, ‘Wooh. You can’t win with none.’ “
The hard-throwing Chappell allowed just one hit and one unearned run over four innings and exited after some shoulder discomfort, according to Harvey coach Mark McNamara. Relief pitcher Nate Overbey tossed two innings and yielded one hit as well.
As impressive as they were, it didn’t matter with Vogt on the other side. The junior right-hander didn’t walk a batter while giving up two singles. Vogt has walked just eight batters on the year.
Maybe of more importance was his cool, calm attitude on the mound, even though the Bulldogs’ season was on the line.
“I don’t really think of it as a pressure moment,” Vogt said. “I just kind of go in and think it’s any old game. I just have to go out there and do my job. My team will have my back, and I know we’ll put up runs to win the game.”
Lakeview, which has come on strong after a 4-8 start, plays second-seeded Geneva on the road at 5 p.m. today.
Expect a few more nervous moments for Johnson, who was guarded about giving away any of his quirky habits.
“I’ve calmed down throughout the season,” said a smiling Johnson, who couldn’t help but hear the giggles of Vogt from a few feet away. “I’m not going to give anything away.”