After putting up 29 combined runs in its two previous games, the Newton varsity baseball team’s bats stayed hot Friday night, as Newton strung together 10 hits in a 7-2 victory over region rival Alcovy.
The win was Newton’s fourth consecutive, moving their record to above .500, and Alcovy struggled to score in the Tigers’ second consecutive game after narrowly escaping Rockdale County 1-0 early in the week.
Second baseman Tristan McInerny led Newton with a 3-for-3 performance at the plate with an RBI and starting pitcher Allen Bowen allowed just a pair of runs in a little over six innings, pushing Newton to 3-1 in Region 2-AAAAAA action.
“We’ve been consistently working on hitting and it really came together this week,” Newton coach Andre Byrd said. “We’ve been hitting until our hands bleed and it’s been paying off.
“We got a solid performance from Allen Bowen tonight, even though he wasn’t supposed to be on the mound,” he said. “Kenny Glover was set to set start tonight, but he suffered an injury, and Bowen became the next man up. Bowen showed up and showed out. The guys are starting to believe in one another and are beginning to trust their teammates and when they do that, they can feel comfortable.”
Leading 3-0 entering the top of the fifth inning, Newton added a trio of insurance runs to its lead, burying the Tigers with a three-run frame.
M.J. Boykin punched a lead-off single into left field and advanced to second on a Nathan Purcell balk, giving the Rams a runner in scoring position. Mason Calloway dropped down a bunt to Purcell and the junior tried to get the out at third, but Boykin slid under the tag, giving Newton runners at the corners.
A passed ball allowed Calloway to advance to second and an intentional walk to Bowen loaded the bases for Newton third baseman Shawn Guckenberger. With the bases full, Guckenberger delivered, blasting a two-run single past the infield, extending Newton’s lead to 5-0.
McInerny executed a sac-fly to center on the Rams’ next at-bat, scoring Phillip Rowe who was in to run for Bowen, and the Rams held a commanding 6-0 lead before the Tigers put up their first run of the gae
Alcovy’s offense woke up in the bottom of the fifth in part to a two-out Austin Richardson double to right center. Richardson crossed home a batter later on a Dalton Reagin blooper to shallow center, confusing the Newton defense as the ball danced in the sun. Alcovy was unable to bring Reagin in from first, but cut the Rams’ lead to 6-1.
In the sixth, timely hitting again came to Newton’s aid, as the Rams tacked on their final run of the game. Daniel Croom led-off with an infield single on a chopper down the third base line and after a Grant Burroughs’ strikeout, Boykin reached base after Alcovy was called for catcher-interference.
With two on the Rams went for the double steal and the gamble paid off. Croom had almost reached third before Tigers’ catcher Quinton Grizzard made his throw down to the base and the sophomore's throw missed its mark, sailing into the outfield. Croom recovered at third and made his way home, pushing Newton’s lead back to six.
Alcovy added a run in the bottom half of the sixth on a solo homer from Nanpon Ross with one down, but the Tigers’ offense couldn’t push another run across, settling for the 7-2 final.
Newton’s offense plated a run in the third inning before scoring two in the fourth. The Rams’ opening score came on a Boykin grounder to short that scored Burroughs and Newton added a pair on a Croom blooper to single that plated Josh Prince and McInerny.
Purcell picked up the loss on the mound for the Tigers, giving up seven runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out a pair of Newton batters.
Bowen secured the win with 6-1/3 innings pitched, scattering six hits and two walks while tallying seven strike outs.
The Tigers return to action Tuesday at home against Luella, while Newton hopes its offense continues its hot streak at home against Morrow.