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Newton County advances to semifinals
Seven-run third inning advances Newton past S.C.
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Newton County overcame early fielding problems with a breakout third inning to advance to its fifth game in the 2012 Dixie Boys World Series and eliminate South Carolina on Tuesday evening.

The host team tallied six hits, including a home run and four doubles, to put together seven runs in the third en route to a 9-2 win over South Carolina at City Pond Field.

Newton County, which has won three straight games since falling to Texas in the opening round, will play as one of four remaining teams in the double elimination tournament, against the loser of Alabama and Georgia, which finished after press time, Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Newton County allowed a run in the first inning thanks to a crucial error as pitcher, Gray Ritchey and first baseman, Hunter Phillips both went for a pop up near the pitcher's mound. South Carolina's Ryan Taylor hit the high-fly, which fell to the mound.

The out would have been the final one of the inning, however, the next batter, Brandon Spittle hit a single to shallow center, scoring Edward McMillan.

South Carolina added to the lead thanks to another Newton County lapse in the third inning. South Carolina's Robert Jones led off with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice, before a hit by McMillan moved him to third.

McMillan and Jones than had a double steal with Newton County throwing to second base, allowing McMillan to score.

However, following the third inning, Newton's defense settled down and its offense came to life.

Having managed no hits and only one base runner in the first two innings, the host team connected on six hits in the third.

Marquell Stevens, who sparked Newton County's win over Mississippi with a home run Monday night, started the third inning with a double. He moved to third on Jared Jones' groundout and scored on Blake Shope's sacrifice grounder to short stop. Nick Womack then hit a two-run home run to left center, followed by a solo home run by Jake Jones just over the center field wall.

Hunter Phillips hit a two-out double to score Hewell and Phillip Rowe, courtesy running for Gray Ritchie. Stevens, who already had a double in the inning, had another, this time scoring Phillips and chasing starting pitcher Taylor Finlay from the game. Newton County put up seven runs as 11 batters saw plate appearances in the inning.

Newton added to its lead in the fourth inning, after Blake Shope led off with a walk and was brought home by Nick Womack's double.

Newton County made it 9-2 when Shope connected on what would become an error and Rowe, running for Ritchey, scored on the throw.

Womack led the way with two hits, including a home run and a double and four runs driven in.

"He has been a consistent slugger," Newton coach Denny Hewell said. "He's been someone I can count on at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the ninth."

South Carolina led off the sixth inning with three straight hits to load the bases, but would only get one run out of it as McMillan scored when Taylor Finlay hit into a double play. However, South Carolina would get just the one run, to make it 9-3, as James Pabon struck out to end the top of the sixth.

It was too little too late, as its bats were held at bay by Ritchey. Ritchey went all six innings, allowing eight hits, while striking out four and walking just one batter.

"We've pitched out of a lot of jams at times when our defense hadn't done what it should," Hewell said.