By Marty Hill
Special to The Covington News
The Newton County American All Stars got off to a good start at the Major League Dixie Youth Baseball World Series in Madison Heights, Va. on Monday night, as they defeated the team from Searcy, Ark., 7-1.
Newton was the home team in the matchup, and sat down the first three batters in the top of the first inning. Newton's Tyler Manning was the starting pitcher, and assisted in two of the outs along with an outstanding play by Austin McCullough at second base.
Newton's Cameron Boyd drew a walk off during the bottom of the first inning, which put the fastest runner on base.
Jake Jones followed with a sacrifice bunt that moved Boyd to second and into scoring position. Sherman Graves then hit a hard liner to shortstop and, with some smooth base running, Boyd advanced to third after the fielder's choice got Graves out at first.
Newton's Tray Hill then reached base with a walk, putting runners on first and third with two outs. Alex Smith wasted no time getting down to business. On the first pitch, Smith drove the ball high over the left field fence for a three-run homer, giving Newton County the lead, 3-0.
During the top of the second inning, Arkansas did not have much luck at the plate. Only four batters had the chance to face Manning, and again, with a play from the mound and a strikeout on the next batter, Manning retired the first two batters with ease.
Newton added another run in the second.
Cody Walker led off with a bunt down the third base line, beating the throw for an infield hit. Dalton Wheeler reached base on a bloop single to right field, moving Walker to second base. And in Manning's first at-bat, he laid down a perfect bunt to which Arkansas could not make a play, loading the bases for Devin McDonald. McDonald lined a ball down the first base line and scored Walker, making it 4-0.
Once again, Manning needed little help from his team in the top of the third, as Arkansas only got four batters to the plate again. In addition, Manning struck out the first two hitters.
After a scoreless third inning for both teams, the score remained, 4-0.
During the top of the fourth, Manning retired the side in order. Manning struck out the first batter and then threw the next hitter out at first base. Hill recorded the third out unassisted, ending another at-bat for Arkansas.
Leading off the bottom of the fourth for Newton County, it was Smith who hit a hard liner to right field, giving him a single. Walker battled back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk, which put runners on first and second. Antonious Sims also battled before drawing a walk to load the bases for Wheeler. Wheeler also walked in his at-bat, scoring Smith and giving Newton a more comfortable lead, 5-0.
But Arkansas refused to go down quietly. In the top of the 5th, the opposing team made a valiant effort to get a rally going, putting a run on the board despite great defensive play by Newton County.
Not satisfied with a four-run lead, Newton wanted to put more runs on the board for insurance, and they did just that.
Graves reached first on a hard line drive past Arkansas' second baseman. Hill then drew another walk, putting runners on first and second. Graves advanced to third on a wild pitch, while Hill moved to second.
With two outs, Walker - not willing to leave his teammates stranded - stepped to the plate and smacked a line drive that didn't stop until it reached the fence in left field. The extra-base hit scored Graves and Hill, making it 7-1.
The top of the sixth inning didn't bring much help for Arkansas, as only three batters made it to the plate.
Several of the players said after Monday night's win that it was "sure nice to have the first win under your belt, instead of the first loss."
Newton played Alabama Tuesday night; however, results were not available at press time.
Despite what the outcome was Tuesday night, Newton County will play again at 7:30 p.m. tonight.