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Posted: August 8, 2012 3:00 p.m.

Newton reaches title game

Womack leads host team to 4-3 win

William Brawley/

The Newton County All Stars have made it all the way to the top of the Dixie Boys' world Wednesday.

After falling to Texas, the host team won five straight, including a dramatic 4-3 victory over Alabama Wednesday morning.

Newton County fell 4-1 in Sunday's opener behind a critical inning of errors, and misplayed defensive balls by infielders, including shortstop Nick Womack.

That first game, though, is barely a memory anymore as Newton County, especially Womack has been on a tear since then. Womack leads Newton County in home runs after adding his third against Alabama.

If his three hits, a home run, two stolen bases and four times reaching first base safely wasn't enough, Womack also starred on the mound.

With the bases loaded and Alabama making a game of it, at 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh, Newton coach Denny Hewell relieved Blake Shope for Womack.

"It was nerve-racking," Womack said. "I've never been in a situation like that. I was trying to get the three next batters out."

Trailing 4-1, heading into the game's final three outs, Alabama had back-to-back singles and hit into an error at second base to load the bases against Shope. Tanner Blatt then hit into a fielder's choice to score Chris Malley. After Shope hit Trevor May with a pitch, his third hit batter of the game, Hewell went to Womack.

Womack induced an unassisted out to first base, which scored Heath Senn and put runners at second and third with two outs.

He then threw a ball and a strike by Blake Yonz, who also fouled off a pitch, setting up a one-run game with two outs, one ball and two strikes.

On the fourth pitch, Hewell called for a fastball and Womack focused in on the task at hand.

"I just tried to bring it," Womack said.

Yonz swung through the pitch, and celebrations erupted at City Pond Park for the home team.

Newton held off previously unbeaten Alabama after jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

Shope got Newton Count's first hit on a one-out single, followed by another single from Womack to move him to third. Shope then scored on a groundout to second base by Jake Jones. After Connor Hewell walked, Gray Ritchie hit a double to score Womack and Hewell.

Newton County added to its lead in the top of the third inning when Womack hit his third home run of the tournament, a lead off solo shot to left-center field, for a 4-0 lead.

While the offense led the way, Shope kept Alabama at bay, pitching calmly through several tough spots.

In the bottom of the first Alabama loaded the bases after a walk and two hit by pitches by Shope with two outs. However, the Newton County pitcher got Kent Biggs to fly out to right field.

Shope again had trouble in the bottom of the second, giving up two hits to put runners on first and second, but committed a balk to move both runners. He then struck out the final two batters of the inning.

Shope finished the game in the seventh, allowing just two runs on five hits without walking a batter, while striking out seven.

Jared Jones had a hit in each of his at bats, along with two stolen bases from the ninth spot in the batter order, as Newton County completed its climb back from losing its first game.

"A lot of these teams had us written off, I know the home town never did," Hewell said. "But I know a lot of these teams kind of chalked us up to being the host team, with a lot of rec kids just going through the ceremonies. So it was big to come all the way back."

Newton County will play Georgia at 7 p.m. tonight for the Dixie Boys championship. Since Georgia is the only unbeaten team remaining in the double-elimination tournament, if it wins tonight it will be champions. However, if Newton wins, there will be another game Thursday at 10 a.m.

 

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