COVINGTON, Ga. Coming into the seventh inning with a one run lead on a windy Friday afternoon game at home, victory seemed sure for the Newton Rams baseball team until Columbia rallied to a 6-5 win.
“Overall coming off of spring break we didn’t do a bad job,” said Newton coach Andre Byrd. “I’m pleased. I think the wind played a part (in the loss) big time. To be up one run going into the seventh, I felt like we had it.”
Columbia’s late rally started with Khalil Manuel, who was first at bat at the top of the seventh inning. Manuel hit a single, and then, after being pushed to third base, Manuel tied the game when he was plated by a Kameron Marshall triple,
Marshall scored the last run of the game, making the score 6-5, after getting to home plate with a Jamal Huff single. Newton (9-12) defense quickly strengthened to stop Columbia (19-4).
Newton could not produce any runs at the bottom of the last inning, going three up and three down to end the game.
Talents were evenly matched in the first inning with both teams getting three runs each.
Huff plated both Elijah Hammonds and Marshall with a triple for Columbia. Huff then stretched their early lead to 3-0 with a run after a Brandon Williams base hit.
But Newton retaliated when Marcus Smith came to bat. He hit a single and then stole two bases while Jamal Boykin was at bat. Boykin then brought in Smith with a single.
With a 3-1 score, Boykin stole second base and got another run for the Rams with the help of a Parker Kauffman double.
With Israel Dixon, who ran for Kauffman, tied the game when he stole third and home plate soon after.
Smith flexed his muscles for Newton offensively with his three total runs. After his first run in the opening inning, he also scored runs in the third and fifth innings. In the third frame, Smith hit a single, was pushed to second by Boykin and was sent home by Kauffman.
Smith stretched Newton’s lead 5-3 after he hit another base hit, stole second and then brought it home with a Boykin single.
“I think (Smith is) the best player in the region,” said Byrd. “We may not be the best team right now, but hands down he’s the best. He’s on fire. If he doesn’t do anything, we don’t score any runs and that’s been proven.”
Columbia had some luck in the sixth inning after only getting two hits after the first inning. Huff revived the Eagles’ spirits after hitting a single and stealing second base right after. The Eagles made it a team effort to get him to home plate for a 5-4 score, one base at a time.
As the Rams head to the home stretch of the regular season, they’ll finish off with a three-game series against third place Rockdale (15-5, 5-4 in Region 8-AAAAAAA) which will feature home games for Newton on Monday and Friday. It’s a pivotal matchup, given the Rams’ current fourth place region standing.
Newton’s regular season finale will come on Monday April 17 at South Gwinnett.