Lightning can strike anytime DeCovich is on the field
Eastview senior has .510 batting average, 1.50 ERA
Nobody can do it all, but Evan DeCovich has done a lot for Eastview’s baseball team.
He gives the Lightning the feeling that good things will happen whenever he steps in the batter’s box or on the mound. Monday afternoon’s South Suburban Conference game against Burnsville was an example. DeCovich pitched a two-hit shutout against the defending state Class 3A champions and added a single in the Lightning’s 2-0 victory.
Eastview’s victory prevented Burnsville from clinching the conference championship. The Blaze, 13-2 in SSC games, held a one-game lead over Eastview (12-3) and a two-game lead over Lakeville North (11-4) with two league games remaining.
As well as DeCovich has pitched (4-2, 1.50 ERA), he has been even better at the plate. Through Monday’s game, he’s hitting .510 with four homers and 26 RBI.
Assistant coach Mark Groebner drew some laughs from fans near the Eastview dugout when he said, “It kind of sucks for Evan to be 1-for-2 and have his average go down.”
Is DeCovich the best player in the South Suburban Conference?
“That’s hard to say because there are so many good players,” Eastview head coach Tom Strey said. “Burnsville has three or four outstanding players. But I think Evan has had as good a season as anybody, and I don’t know if anybody is more valuable to his team. He’s our best hitter and best pitcher.”
DeCovich came into the season as one of the Lightning’s core players, but predicting this kind of success might have been a stretch. He batted .300 as a junior but was not used much on the mound, pitching only 9 2/3 innings. He became not only a feared power hitter (half of his 26 hits this season have been for extra bases) but the ace of a pitching staff that lost its projected No. 1 starter, Adam Moorse, to an elbow injury.
“I didn’t pitch much at all for the high school team last year, but I did pitch a lot in the summer and put in a lot of work in the fall and winter,” DeCovich said. “I probably gained three or four miles per hour on my fastball.”
DeCovich said a Grand View University coach timed his fastball at 88 mph during a game against Burnsville in April that the Lightning lost 5-3. He has signed with Grand View, an NAIA baseball power in Des Moines, Iowa.
“They said they would probably use me at first base to start,” he said. “For pitching, I would probably be a reliever for the first part (of his college career) and maybe a starter later.
“They recruited me and one of the Burnsville kids, Dillon Bloomquist. I’m looking forward to being his teammate.”
While some players have had difficulty adjusting to new metal bats designed to reduce the speed of the ball coming off the barrel, it doesn’t appear to have bothered DeCovich.
“With my winter team (a youth all-star team called the St. Paul Saints), we used wood bats,” he said, “and I know these new bats are better than wood.”
Cameron Hall had two hits and scored both runs in Monday’s game against Burnsville. The Lightning had a chance to break open the game in the fourth inning but had two runners thrown out on the bases. That didn’t matter to DeCovich, who struck out eight Burnsville hitters.
“He’s such a competitive kid,” Strey said. “In an important game like this one, he’s a guy you want out there.”
And DeCovich was the guy who wanted to be out there.
“Oh, I love to pitch in games like this,” he said. “I don’t know why, but I think I can keep the pressure from getting to me.
“This was a big game because we’ve always had a rivalry with Burnsville. We know they’re No. 1 in the state and No. 1 in our conference, but we’ve always battled with them and we know we can compete with them.”