After losing their first two Region 2-AAAAAA series against Lakeside and Tucker, it was vital for the Newton Rams baseball team to get a win in game three against Tucker, and not get swept. The sense of urgency was there for the Rams, and with Tucker leaving their game back in DeKalb County, it was a commanding victory for Newton 8-1 against the Tigers. In all actuality it was not a bad week for Newton baseball, though they lost the first two games of the series. Newton lost 4-3 in the first game on March 23, and lost the second one in a nail-bitter at Tucker 2-1 on March 25. In totality, Newton outscored Tucker 12-7 in the entire series.
It seems the problem in game three was that Tucker couldn’t hit a left-hander as Newton put center-fielder Mason Calloway on the mound. Calloway had an amazing game though he only had two strikeouts. His pitches were not extremely fast, but they had movement on them and would drop down in the strike-zone leading to a lot of groundouts. He went six innings, and the run that was scored was unearned.
“He [Calloway] pitched a good game,” Newton coach Andre Byrd said. “We pitch very well here at Newton High School; we just have to put the bats together.”
The bats were working for Newton on Friday evening as they managed to get 10 hits in the game. Junior Augustus Murray was the star of the game as he went 4-4 and had four RBIs on three singles and a double. Murray and Calloway have started to heat up for Newton after the slow start and are getting consistent with their bats. Also, freshman Parker Kauffman had a good game offensively knocking in two runs on two singles.
Newton got started early in the bottom of the first inning. After a Tucker error and a Grant Burroughs single, Murray got his first RBI single of the evening knocking the ball into a gap in left field. With the bases loaded and no outs, Kauffman stepped up and got the first of his two RBI-singles. Newton led 2-0 after one.
The second inning was a lot like the first for Newton as three more runs came in. Starting with a walk and Tucker error, Murray came back up again and knocked in two more runs off a single. Then, Kauffman must have felt a little déjà vu because he sent another run in on his second single of the game. From that point on, Newton cruised with a 5-0 lead until giving up a run in the fourth inning, but the Rams had another rally in the bottom of the sixth inning adding three more runs and sealing the game.
“The progress is we hit the ball today,” Byrd explained. “But, I still can’t get over Monday and Wednesday because we actually gave both games away.”
Byrd has expressed to his team repeatedly how they have to hit the ball to win games. It sounds a little cliché because all baseball teams need to hit the ball, but Newton has struggled with that all season. Pitching has been the strength of this team, and that is usually the opposite with most baseball teams. With Newton having a young team, the players are used to hitting JV pitching and haven’t adapted to the varsity level just yet.
But since region play has started, runs are starting to come in for the Rams. Murray and Calloway have been the catalyst for the Newton bats that are starting to wake up. Senior Joshua Howard has been a huge presence in the last two weeks for Newton.
It’s a big series for the Rams next week as they take on cross-town rival Alcovy, who has also struggled in the season so far. Newton (5-9, 2-4) is currently in fourth place in the region, so they’re going to be looking for a series sweep over the Tigers to push back up the standings.
Byrd said, “When we play those guys [Alcovy] you can throw the record books out the window.”