By Eric Witcher
Special to The Covington News
The Newton County Minor League National Division All-Stars continue to show what they are made of, as their winning streak extended to three games this week during the Dixie Youth District Tournament hosted by Lamar County.
Coached by Bill Moorhead, Chris Griffin and Mike Bloodworth, the team is fielded by Jerry Bloodworth, Chase Gilstrap, Shane Griffin, Colton Couch, Garrett Witcher, Lane Moorhead, Ross Kirkpatrick, Austin Richardson, J.L. Banks, Dustin Womack, Jake Martin and Collin Fleming.
The first bout was Saturday against Crawford County, in which Newton County won, 10-0. Kirkpatrick pitched a flawless, four-inning shutout and was awarded the game ball by the hosting county officials for his performance on the mound.
During the second game on Monday, Newton County faced Warner Robins - a new Dixie Youth baseball team which received a warm welcome during tournament play. However, the newcomers were handed a 17-4 loss by Newton County.
The offensive attack was led by Martin (two triples) and Richardson, who hit an inside-the-park home run. Warner Robins was held to only four runs based on a combined pitching effort from Womack, Gilstrap, Moorhead and Fleming.
But Tuesday, Newton County faced what has proved to be its most worthy adversary yet - Taylor County. The match proved to be a defensive battle that will not soon be forgotten by the players, coaches and spectators.
Both teams entered the game undefeated, as Taylor County had previously toppled Lamar County on Saturday. With two days of rest, Taylor County was looking for its second win.
Newton County's tremendous defensive effort was highlighted by Witcher. Witcher, who was playing his secondary position in right field during the fifth inning, managed to stun the opposing offense by fielding back-to-back hits in the outfield and throwing out both runners at first base.
Trailing 3-2 in the bottom half of the sixth inning, Newton County added two runs after Richardson hit his second inside-the-park home run of the tournament. Richardson continued his sound performance at the plate by eventually driving in the tying run with a stand-up double.
Taylor County intentionally walked Womack, hoping for a force out at third base. But the plan backfired, as Kirkpatrick reached first on an infield hit to load the bases.
With one out, Fleming walked to the plate and hit a grounder to the opposing third baseman, who managed to gun down Richardson on a close play at the plate. With two outs and the bases still loaded, Banks stepped into the batter's box looking to come through and be the hero.
And he did just that.
Banks ripped a line drive into center field to drive in the winning run.
The Newton County All-Stars will look to continue their winning streak this weekend.
Schedules had not been released at press time.