COVINGTON - Demarco Parham, an M.L. King High freshman, is something special, particularly on the mound.
And should the southpaw continue to pitch like he did against Newton High in a crucial 5-1 win at Riverside Park on Wednesday, the Lions (8-11 overall, 5-5 Region 2-AAAAA) will have no problems advancing to the postseason.
"I just had to do what I had to do," Parham said. "I knew my team was going to back me up, so I just let (Newton) hit the ball when my arm got tired."
Parham pitched a complete game, limiting the Rams (7-12, 4-6) to just five hits and one unearned run. He also had seven strikeouts en route to the victory.
"He's been great for us all year," said M.L. King coach Reggie Ingram. "He's had a great season. If we had a little better offense behind him some days he'd have five or six more wins easily."
Entering play, both teams were tied for fourth place in the region standings. Earlier this season the Lions edged the Rams, 12-11.
"This win makes it a lot easier to make it on through," Ingram admitted. "We're still definitely not in, but this makes it a lot easier beating a team that you're tied with at the moment."
M. L. King struck early, getting three of their five hits during the first inning, which eventually led to two runs.
Trey Griffin led the charge with an RBI single, plating Julian Carter who had previously singled. After an RBI sacrifice fly by Parham, the Lions quickly found themselves ahead, 2-0.
That was all Parham needed.
Things started to worsen for the Rams during the fourth after three scoreless innings. In fact, several questionable calls favoring the Lions caused Newton coach Billy Roper to be ejected for arguing.
"It's frustrating enough because it's a region game and you need this to go to state," Roper said. "You want people to just be fair. This is our profession; that's why we get so serious about it. Sometimes you get umpires who just take all the power out of your hand.
"I don't think I was being rude at first," he added, "but then he tossed me without a warning. We take coaching to heart. This is my livelihood. When someone comes out here and I feel like they're not giving my kids a chance, you gotta step up and fight for them, and that's what I felt like I was doing."
The cause was certainly worth fighting for, and it seemed to work. Newton scored its only run of the game in the same inning soon after Roper was tossed.
After Kinley Bryant doubled to deep center field, he later scored on an error by third baseman Jarrell Williams, making it 2-1.
The Rams had their biggest scoring opportunity in the fifth inning when the bases were loaded with no outs; however, several miscues caused them to come up empty.
"(Parham) did a good job," Roper acknowledged. "He did what he had to do. We never got him rattled except for that one inning when we had the bases loaded, but we helped him out."
M. L. King capitalized on the squandered opportunity in the top of the sixth. Williams atoned for his previous mistake by jumping all over a first-pitch fastball and belting an opposite field, three-run homer.
"That was real big for us and for (Williams)," Ingram said. "He's been up and down a little bit, but he's starting to come around. We've got some guys with the ability, and it's late in the year so it's time for it to show."
Williams picked a good time to hit his first home run of the season.
"I've been in a slump lately," Williams said regarding his first homer of the season, "so I'm proud to get out of it."
The roundtripper stole the life out of the Rams, as they were unable to generate anymore offense in the final innings of action.
Despite getting 14 fly-ball outs in five and two-third innings of work, Chris Moss was dealt the loss. Moss, who was 2-for-3 at the plate, allowed five runs (one earned) on five hits. He also struck out two and walked three.
"Well, Chris is someone who's not going to strikeout 10," Roper said, "but what he does is he hits his spots, keeps people off balance and gives us a chance to win."
Bryant pitched the final one and one-third innings, striking out two along the way.
Combined, Moss and Bryant held M.L. King to a .192 batting average (5-for-26). But it was their defense, which resulted in three errors and four unearned runs, that silenced the Rams.
Next to Bryant and Moss, the only other Rams to each get a hit were Reginald Kelly and D.J. Hill.
"We're fighting for the fourth spot," Parham said. "We're trying to go to the playoffs, (and) we got seniors who want to win the championship."
Newton will host Redan High at 5:30 p.m. today.