LILBURN, Ga. — Newton’s losing skid continued Monday evening as the Rams paid a visit to Hugh Buchanan Field to take on No. 4 Parkview.
Facing senior left-hander Mason Brown, the Rams were off-balance at the plate all night, collecting just one hit. Newton’s pitching kept the club in the game early, but the Panthers slowly chipped away before a grand slam blew the doors open in a 12-0 victory.
Since opening Region 4-AAAAAAA play with a three-game sweep of South Gwinnett, the Rams (9-13, 3-4) have won just one of their last nine games. Monday’s defeat pushed the current losing streak out to eight.
“Whenever you’ve got a team like Parkview, they’re a very solid, well-put-together team. They’re just like most teams in this region,” Newton head coach Darrell Helm said. “I think the first inning we came out a little bit intimidated because of who they are, but it’s the same pitching we’ve seen a lot this year. We’ve just got to be more confident in our ability at the plate and jump on the pitches they give us.”
Brown struck out the side in the first inning, leaving the first two batters he faced looking at a called strike three. Just two at-bats into the home half of the inning, the Panthers gave the southpaw a lead to work with.
Senior Ryan Spikes, a former Alcovy Tiger, led off the game with a double to deep center field. Sophomore Colin Houck then connected on a 2-0 pitch, lining it up the middle to drive in Spikes for the first run of the day. The Panthers tacked on another pair of runs behind sacrifice flies off the bats of seniors Cade Sadler and Dobbs Bowden to extend their lead to 3-0.
Newton applied pressure with a pair of baserunners in the second inning due to a walk and a hit-by-pitch, but nothing came of the opportunity as both were ultimately stranded.
After two quick outs were recorded in the bottom of the second, Spikes stepped up to the plate once again and crushed a solo home run to left field, making it 4-0.
In the third inning, Sadler belted a home run of his own — a two-run blast — to give the Panthers a 6-0 lead. He’d do more damage an inning later by following up Spikes’ RBI double with a grand slam to straightaway center field to put his team ahead 11-0.
The final run of the inning was an RBI single from senior Sam Smith, rounding out the dozen on the day for the Panthers.
Newton will get two more cracks at upsetting the Panthers this week. Parkview will travel to Covington for the second game of the series Wednesday before the Rams return to Lilburn for the series finale Friday.
Helm pointed to confidence and an aggressive approach at the plate as keys for his club turning things around in the series.
“When they’re going to throw a first-pitch strike, we can’t let them get in the count. We’ve got to jump on the first-pitch strikes and make the pitcher work,” he said. “If you get in that 0-2 count, they’ve got a lot of nasty off-speed [pitches] and they know how to throw them, so give yourself a chance with that first- or second-pitch fastball and jump on it.”