The Newton Rams missed out on the 2012 baseball playoffs, but it wasn't with a lack of drama.
Tuesday the Rams fell to Luella 10-0 in a game that didn't mean a whole lot and was never in question. However, about 24 hours prior Newton's 3-1 loss to Westlake was exactly the opposite.
It took 14 innings for Newton to find out its playoff fate, as it entered Monday's game with the postseason at stake. The Rams went into the week in fifth place in Region 2-AAAAA, two games behind Westlake, needing wins to extend its season past today's senior game vs. Rockdale.
The Rams (12-13, 6-8 Region 2-AAAAA) showed plenty of heart behind pitcher Trip Lofton who didn't give up an earned run in nine innings.
"In high school baseball that's a great job for a pitcher," Newton coach Vince Byams said. "Especially in his last outing; he gave up no runs, only one unearned."
In the top of the 14th inning Westlake broke through thanks to a few lucky bounces for the visitors and a few mental lapses by the home team.
With Ryan McCranie pitching the final five innings, Westlake loaded the bases after a leadoff walk, a bunt and a missed fly ball by the Rams' defense.
Westlake then put the go-ahead run on the board on a hit batter with the bases loaded. Westlake scored the final run on another missed fly ball by the Rams.
"It was great pitching performances on both sides of the ball," Byams said. "We just couldn't get the runs in."
The loss made Tuesday's matchup against Luella and Wednesday's game against Rockdale meaningless as far as the standings go with just pride and the seniors' final moments to play for.
"It eliminated us from the playoffs," Byams said. "We were playing good ball up to that point. It was a tough way to go.
"We're going to continue to fight and work toward next year."
The Rams finished up their region schedule Tuesday against the league's top team and the fourth-ranked team in the state.
Luella held the Rams in check allowing just four hits, with pitcher Matt Kelley throwing the six innings of shutout ball.
"That's the region champs," Byams said. "They're ranked No. 4 in the state for a reason."
Newton threatened in the first inning as McCranie was hit by a pitch and Floyd Ellis stepped to the base paths as the courtesy runner. On a double by Allen Bowem, Ellis rounded second and was sent toward home plate, but the throw from left field was on time, ending Newton's best scoring threat.
Luella (18-6, 13-1) made the Rams pay for leaving the run on the field as Eric Pape was hit by a pitch and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by John Goodman. Pape then scored on a two-out RBI single by Terrence Worthy.
Luella added to the lead in the third inning with Chase Scott walking with one out and then scoring on Pape's RBI single. Pape moved to second on a fielder's choice to throw out Vincent Jackson, and scored on a double by Goodman.
Leading 3-0 in the fourth, Luella continued to limit Newton's base runners and continued to add to its lead.
Reise McDaniel led off with a single and would score on a sacrifice fly by Chase Scott. D.J. Carlisle, who singled to reach, scored on a single by Jackson to go up 7-0.
Like the fourth inning, McDaniel led off the sixth with a hit, this time a double that was lost in the air by Newton's left fielder. He moved to third on a balk and made it 6-0 Luella on a wild pitch. Scott added to the lead on a solo home run.
Luella added its second home run of the game in the top of the seventh to start a three-run inning.
Jeremie Little and McDaniel added the next two runs on a deep fly by Chase Scott toward center field.
Luella finished with 10 hits against Newton's Sherman Graves, who threw six innings with six strikeouts.
Allen Bowen was the only multi-hit performer for Newton, getting a double in the first and a single in the sixth inning.