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No tears this year for Conner’s Cougars as big inning, big arm saves them against CovCath

By Dan Weber NKyTribune reporter

Conner’s Cougars had been there, done that and didn’t want to go back there again.

Just a year ago in the first round of the regional, after being upset by an unheralded Newport Central Catholic team, the highly touted Cougars spent their postgame time together shedding real tears.

“Definitely a heartbreaker for us, for sure,” said basketball/baseball star Ayden Lohr, who takes his athletic talents to Centre College next year for baseball. “This year saves us from that.”

For Lohr and for 12 other Cougar seniors, Conner Coach Brad Arlinghaus said.

Conner’s Brody Mangold just kept getting better as the CovCath game moved on.

“That’s a lot of redemption for these guys,” he said gesturing toward his seniors. “Thirteen of them wanted to get the monkey off their back.”

Thirteen of them did just that thanks to a six-run fourth inning that turned around what looked like a Covington Catholic night. The Colonels had jumped on Conner ace, Brody Mangold, for two first-inning runs that could have been much more had a couple of CovCath batters not hit the ball right at Cougar fielders.

And then a CovCath hitter lined one right off Magold that took him down. “I was definitely getting banged around out there,” he said with a grin.

Which Mangold could afford after Conner’s 6-2 comeback win highlighted by his 10K game with six of those strikeouts coming back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back in the fourth and fifth innings as he struck out the side in back-to-back innings.

“I knew about the six straight (strikeouts) but not the 10 (total),” said Mangold who improved his record to 8-1 and is on his way to Wabash Junior College, one of the top JuCo programs in the country, after graduation.

And yeah, he was in a tough place after allowing a pair of runs, a base on balls, a hit-by-pitch and a wild pitch in the first inning. But in no danger of getting pulled.

No chance, Arlinghaus said. “I was going to ride him,” he said and depend on the offense to come around, which it did. As Mangold did, limiting CovCath to just three hits the final six innings.

“Our offense started coming around two weeks ago on a trip to Lexington (and a 9-7 comeback win over Lexington Catholic).” There was also that 12-9 win over Beechwood a little over a week ago.

Photo by Bob Jackson

But it wasn’t all Conner. CovCath’s defense, or lack thereof, contributed, with back-to-back throwing errors that set up Conner’s six-run fourth that the Cougars responded to with four singles and Lohr’s two-RBI triple, giving him two hits along with Cody Henson.

Not that Arlinghaus didn’t feel for his CovCath alma mater and the man he played for, Bill Krumpelbeck.

“I played for him,” Arlinghaus said, “that’s one of the best programs in Northern Kentucky the last 30-40 years. I was honored to play for him.”

But now that he’s the head man at Conner, he’s happy that his team isn’t the one crying after this game.

“I tell them only one team is crying tears of joy after the last game,” Arlinghaus said.

The hope now is that’s a long way off for his Cougars who will face Highlands in the 5:30 semifinal game Monday at Thomas More Stadium.

CONNER 0 0 0 6 0 0 0 – 6-9-1
COVCATH 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 2-4-2
WP: Mangold 8-1 LP: Zekl, 5-2

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