COVINGTON, Ga. — Grayson’s pitching proved too much for Newton as the Rams dropped the series opener at home 5-1 Monday afternoon.
With the Rams opening their region matchups against each other, both were looking to set the tone for what will be an important final stretch of the season.
Grayson’s Stephen Slezak took the mound against Newton and mowed through the lineup on his way to five full innings.
Slezak racked up nine strikeouts through five, allowing four walks and no earned runs.
“[Slezak] was definitely tough, he kept us off balance with really good off-speed,” head coach Derwin McNealy said.
Newton’s lone run of the night came across the plate on a throwing error in the first inning from Grayson third basemen Wyatt Williams, which allowed Collin Brightwell to score.
Grayson took the lead in the second inning after an RBI single from Blair Barnes led to a sacrifice fly from Kameron Byrd to give them a 2-1 lead over Newton, which lasted a majority of the game.
Caden Brown took the mound for Newton in game one, holding the Grayson offense to two runs through five innings despite being in multiple jams throughout.
Both teams switched pitchers in the sixth inning, as Grayson made the move to Jayson Barber.
Barber shut down the Newton offense for the final two innings, striking out three batters and holding them hitless.
Braden Ellis took over for Brown, but Grayson was able to capitalize in the top of the seventh on a big three-run double from Byrd which gave Grayson all the insurance it needed as they gave Barber the ball to shut down the game in the bottom of the inning.
Byrd had the best game at the plate for Grayson, totaling four RBIs as well as a walk in four plate appearances.
Newton had no answers for Slezak and Barber as they fell 5-1 in game one of the series.
“We are going to go out tomorrow [in practice] and talk about it, we have to hit with runners in scoring position, that gives us a better chance to get a win against a really good team,” McNealy said.
Newton will look to even up the series as they host Grayson again for game two of the series, Wednesday, March 30.