SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — Four days after inclement weather washed away both clubs’ season openers, the Newton and Social Circle prep baseball teams met under a cloudless sky at Burks Field on a frigid Friday evening.
Coming off a narrow defeat at Stockbridge on Wednesday, the Rams scattered 10 hits across seven innings against the Redskins to collect a 9-4 win and move to 1-1 on the year. It was the team’s first victory in the Darrell Helm era, the former assistant having taken over the reins this spring.
“It’s kind of getting that monkey off our back,” Helm said. “We wanted it Wednesday, it didn’t fall our way, but it’s good to get it off. Now we can keep moving forward with it and try to turn this into a streak.”
Helm handed the ball to sophomore Javarra Martin to start the game for Newton. The lanky left-hander was shaky at times, but worked around five walks to allow just a pair of earned runs on five hits while striking out seven over four innings of work. Junior righty Will Standard came on in relief and tossed three shutout frames to close the door on the Redskins.
“Social Circle is a great program historically. They’re always one of those teams you’re going to see deep in the playoffs. And it’s good to come on the road against a team that perennially is good and sneak a victory from them,” Helm said.
Facing a 4-3 deficit in the fifth inning, Newton senior Brody Landreau stepped into the box with two on and one out recorded. He lined a single back up the middle, driving in junior Justin Brown and senior Garrett Mitchell to put his club back in front for good.
Brown gave the Rams insurance to work with in the sixth inning when he ripped a three-run double to left field before later scoring on a fielder’s choice to seal the win.
In addition to Helm, there was also a new face in the opposing dugout Friday night as first-year Social Circle head coach Kevin Dawkins made his debut with the Redskins. Dawkins’ club came out on the short end in his first game, but he was optimistic about the way he saw his Class AA team trade blows with a Class AAAAAAA program.
“I thought we battled. I know the score was 9-4, and the score might not be indicative of how we battled, but we played five freshmen. We’ve got a bunch of young guys, and you’re going to have your ups and downs when you play a 7A program like Newton,” Dawkins said. “These boys have got to flush it. Take the loss, learn from it, grow from it and let’s go out and get it [Saturday.]”
Newton set the tone early when junior Zion Ross connected on the first pitch he saw and drove a double to center field. Two batters later, Ross trotted home on a groundout to put the Rams up, 1-0.
It took a full inning for Social Circle to answer, but the Redskins claimed their first lead of the night in the home half of the second thanks to a run scored on a throwing error and Gabe Jones’ RBI single.
Landreau’s two-run single would put his team back in front in the third, but the Redskins answered once more in the fourth by plating a pair of runs with two outs.
Social Circle will have a quick turnaround as it returns to action Saturday to host Prince Avenue at 1 p.m. Newton will have the weekend off before traveling to Athens on Monday for a doubleheader with Prince Avenue at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.