MONROE - The Newton Knights, an 11 and under AAA travel baseball team from Covington, could not find the touch they desired during the JB Athletics Touch 'Em All Classic last weekend at Criswell Park.
In fact, the Knights' pitchers could not find the strike zone for most of the tournament. With an uncharacteristic-like performance, using six different pitchers in the three games, the Covington squad walked 27 batters with just one strikeout.
Six teams competed in the USSSA event, including the NYO Drillers (Atlanta), the Carrollton Clippers, the Belvedere Dodgers (Decatur), the Elite Shockers (McDonough) and the Criswell Blacksox (Monroe).
The Drillers eventually won the two-day tournament by defeating the Blacksox.
In the first game of pool play against the Clippers, the Knights began by scoring one run in the first inning, resulting in their only run of the game.
The Clippers scored two runs in the bottom of the second and plated a whopping 14 runs in the third to sail past the Knights, 16-1.
Playing back-to-back games Saturday, the Knights faced the Elite Shockers. The Knights jumped to an early one-run lead in the first, 4-3. Both teams were scoreless in the second before the Shockers plated 10 runs in the bottom of the third frame.
Despite scoring four runs in the fourth, the Knights eventually fell short, losing 15-8 in four innings. Nevertheless, the Knights out-hit the Shockers, 7-3.
On Sunday, the Knights faced the Blacksox during their first game of the single elimination round. Trailing 6-0 in the second inning, the bats came alive for the Newton County team, as it scored five runs in the third and five more in the fourth to take the lead, 10-8.
The Blacksox allowed the Knights to scored one more in the fifth frame to start a dramatic four-run comeback in the bottom half of the inning, 12-11.
The Knights hit a combined .268 in the three games, with Ben Moses leading the way (.500). Yorel James hit .429, while both Hunter Ballard and Garrett Witcher each batted .400.
Since becoming reclassified by the USSSA to AAA from AA in May, the Knights (2-10) have not faired well against either AAA or major classified teams. At the beginning of the season, the Knights were an AA team and had a 15-5 record in that class.
Currently, the Knights are ranked 14th in the state in total points and are 41st in the state in the power rating by the USSSA.
Led by coaches Leroy James and Mark Clark, the Newton Knights also include J.L. Banks, John Wells, Jalen Martin, A.J. Howard, Ross Kirkpatrick, Hunter Clark, Evan House and Casey Palmer.
The Knights hope to turn things around this weekend at the Hampton Shoot Out at North Forty Park. Their first game of pool play is tonight at 7:45 p.m. against the Eagles (Hampton). On Saturday, they will face the Gray Dawgs at 12:30 p.m. in the final game of pool play.
The single elimination tournament begins Sunday.