By Garth Shankin
On Monday, April 3, moments after the New Richmond Lions defeated Western Brown 2-0 to improve to 5-2 on the season, a rainbow shined down beyond the outfield fence at Western Brown High School. As it turns out, the appearance was a sign of things to come for the New Richmond baseball team.
The Lions haven’t lost a game since April 1, and currently sport a 15-2 mark entering play against Amelia on Wednesday, April 19.
Head coach Brian Benzinger said the Lions are in the midst of a stretch where the stars seemed to align.
“It’s just been a year where, to this point, things have just lined up for us,” Benzinger said. “We’ve gotten the big hits when we needed it, made the defensive play when we needed it. The stars have aligned perfectly for us so far.”
And, according to Benzinger, the Lions have won the games in several different ways. Earlier this month, the team won an extra-inning contest against Williamsburg 9-8, then two days later blew out Georgetown 11-0.
“We’ve had some games where our offense has just exploded on somebody, or we’ve had tight games against Western Brown and Batavia early on. Even Amelia was dicey for a while, we ended up run-ruling them. We’re getting the two-out hit now, and in years past that hasn’t happened to us. I’ve made the comment to an assistant coach that we’re getting breaks. We’re getting big performances from key guys.”
Three of those key players find themselves all over the leaderboard in the city of Cincinnati.
As of April 16, Zade Richardson led the area in RBI with 25, just ahead of Brett Benzinger’s 23. Lane Flamm led the city with 33 runs scored, with Brett Benzinger right behind him at 27. Richardson’s 25 runs place him third in the city.
Brett Benzinger’s 27 hits lead the city, with Flamm checking in third at 24. Richardson’s 21 hits places him seventh overall, and his 10 doubles are second overall.
Flamm’s four triples put him third in the city, and Richardson’s three home runs tie him for first.
Flamm and Brett Benzinger are also tops in terms of steals, with Flamm swiping 13 bases and Benzinger 11 thus far.
The batting averages are near the top of the leaderboards as well, with Flamm leading the way at a .533 clip. Brett Benzinger’s .529 mark is second-highest on the team, with Richardson’s .447 mark also among the best in the city.
While those three are the statistical leaders on the team, the squad has to have production from more than three players offensively, as evidenced by the total number of runs the trio has scored.
“You look at the stats and it’s three guys, but if you’re around the team every day you see it’s more than just those three,” Brian Benzinger said.
The Lions’ pitching staff starts with Flamm on the mound. Flamm entered play this week leading the city with 55 strikeouts and four wins, which tied him for first in the city. His earned run average sits at .27 for the season, with the only earned run he allowed coming in the Lions’ victory over Batavia on March 27. Since that game, Flamm has won shutout games over Western Brown, Reading and Blanchester.
Despite the numerous statistical categories New Richmond players find themselves jockeying with each other in, Brian Benzinger said the trio puts winning ahead of individual achievements.
“They don’t think about that,” Brian Benzinger said. “They pull for each other. I believe that’s it’s secondary to them, they want to win.
The Lions were scheduled to return to action against Amelia in the Reds’ Showcase at Midland Park in Batavia on Wednesday, April 19. That game was not completed before press time. New Richmond travels to Norwood for a 4:30 p.m. tilt on Friday, April 21. The Lions host St. Bernard and Aiken on Saturday, April 22 at 10 a.m.