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Knights place fifth at Atlanta Super NIT
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HAMPTON - The Newton Knights, an 11 and under AA local travel baseball team, placed fifth overall at the Atlanta Super NIT last weekend.

Unfortunately, the event resulted in a shootout because of cancelled play Friday and Saturday due to bad weather.

The 12-team double elimination play began at 9 a.m. Sunday with eight teams competing in the first round, while four teams received a bye in the first round based on ranking.

The eight teams playing in the first round were the Georgia Dawgs (McDonough), the Wills Park Lightning (Alpharetta), the Astros (McDonough), the Belvedere Dodgers (Decatur), the Mudcats (Fayetteville), the Shiloh Roughriders (Snellville), the Home Plate Chili Dogs (Peachtree City) and the McDonough Crush.

Covington's Newton Knights, the Elite Attack (McDonough), the Georgia Mad Dawgs (Cumming) and the Eagles Baseball (Hampton) were the four teams which received first round byes.

The Eagles ended up winning the tournament with a 4-1 tournament record against the Crush (7-2).

"I went into this tournament thinking we were in a great position to come out on top," said Newton coach Leroy James. "A lot of my hopes were washed away with the rainy weather on Saturday. The rain left us with 35-minute games on Sunday which leaves no room for error."

In their first game against the Dawgs, the Knights got off to a horrible start, losing 9-1. They walked nine batters, facing only 13 in the three-hit, one inning game route.

The Knights certainly needed a wake-up call from their first game, because shortly after they would be facing a tough Mudcat squad.

"Although the loss put our backs to the wall, (from) that point on they stepped up their level of intensity, playing like the Knights normally play," James said.

The Knights beat the Mudcats in extra innings, 2-1, using a modified international tie-Breaker. (A player who made the last out the previous inning starts as a runner on third base with two outs).

In the second extra inning of the tie-breaker, Jalen Martin scored from third after a passed ball to win the game. The Knights beat the Astros 9-1 with some strong hitting, resulting in seven hits in 15 at-bats (.467 batting average).

Meanwhile, they held the Astros to two hits (.250). With the momentum on their side, the Knights entered their fourth game of the day against the Roughriders. Newton scored first in a big way, with J.L. Banks hitting a two-run homer to right center field.

After the Roughriders scored one in the bottom of the first, Benjamin Moses hit a solo home run to left in the second, putting the Knights up, 3-1.

With two outs and two in scoring position, the Roughriders' leadoff hitter dropped the game-winning single in shallow center, scoring two and ending Newton's tournament run, 4-3.

"Every game we lose is disappointing," James said, "but I have to keep reminding myself we have only been playing together for a couple of months. In most cases, we are playing established teams that have been around for years, most of which are still trying to get qualified for the World Series, while we already have a berth."

Overall, the Knights have a tournament record of 14-4. They are currently ranked among the top 10 in the state by all three ranking methods (first in the coaches poll, fourth in the power rating and seventh in the point system), according to the USSSA.

For the tournament, John Wells led the team with a .750 average. Hunter Ballard hit .667, while Martin and Yorel James each batted .500. Moses and Banks hit .400 apiece.

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