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Posted: April 26, 2012 9:28 p.m.

Senior sendoff successful for Rams

The Newton Rams gave their seniors a successful send off with a 5-3 win over the visiting Rockdale Bulldogs Wednesday night.

After special recognition for the outgoing seniors, the Rams jumped on Rockdale with four runs in the first inning. From that point, Newton cruised to victory behind winning pitcher Daniel Croom with Allen Bowen picking up the save.

"It was a good team effort and we sent the seniors out with a win," Newton coach Vincent Byams said. "Everyone improved their game over the course of the year and we came together as a team."

After yielding two unearned runs on only one hit in the top of the first, the Rams jumped on the Rockdale starter. With one out, Newton's Tripp Loftin singled and Ryan McCranie walked. Bowen drove home the first run with a single and then Sherman Graves reached on an error to load the bases. Croom helped his own cause with a bases clearing double and the Rams lead 4-2.

Rockdale put a runner on in its half of the second, but a crisp double play from the second baseman, to the shortstop to the first baseman quickly ended the inning. The Bulldogs threatened in the top of the third on a walk and double. However, Croom stranded the runners at second and third by recording a strikeout to end the inning.

In the Rams half of the third, Loftin opened with another single and McCranie reached on an error. Bowen drove home Lofton on a fielder's choice to put the Rams up 5-2.

The lead stayed at 5-2 until Rockdale nicked Croom for a run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly. In the bottom of the sixth Shawn Guckenberger delivered a pinch-hit single and Cortliss Hardeman followed with a line single to left. However, the Rams were unable to convert the scoring opportunity, but took a 5-3 lead to the seventh.

Croom ran out of steam in the top of the seventh and departed after a walk and single put two Bulldogs on with no outs. However, Allen Bowen came in to record two consecutive outs before yielding a walk to load the bases. With the tying runs at second and third and the go-ahead run at first, Bowen ended the drama with a strikeout to end the game.

"Croom had a very good start after going quite a while since his last outing and kept the Rockdale hitters off-balance," Byams said. "And Bowen came in and closed things out with the game on the line."

It was the last game at Newton for outgoing seniors Sherman Graves, Cortless Hardeman, Tripp Loftin, Keon Matthews, and Ryan McCranie, who were celebrated on senior day.

Graves and Loftin will go on to play college ball at Savannah State, while McCranie will play locally at Georgia Perimeter. Senior Tai Avery served the Rams as team manager.

The Newton Rams ended their season with an overall .500 record of 13-13 and finished fifth in Region 2-AAAAA, going 7-3 in their final ten games. This ends a six year drought of sub .500 baseball for the Rams.

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