CONYERS, Ga. — In the first of a three-game Region 8-AAAAAAA series between Newton and Rockdale, the Rams got off to a hot start and appeared to be on their way to a crucial win until an eight-run bottom of the sixth for Rockdale turned the tide in their favor, allowing them to defeat Newton 11-8 Monday night.
The Rams’ hot start began in the top of the first inning as Jamal Boykin led the game off with a single. Cunning base running and a timely hit-and-run executed to perfection by Boykin and Christian Davis lead to the game’s first run.
Déjà vu struck as Davis and Blake Wilder executed another perfect hit-and-run, this time Davis did the running. That, plus a smack single into right off the bat of Khalil Wilcox put the Rams’ up 3-0 after the top of the first.
Defensively, senior Jacob Redman walked the first two batters in the bottom of the inning but managed to get himself out of the jam with some help from his defense.
The second frame featured Rockdale’s pitching and defense settling down as the Bulldogs forced a three-up-three down inning from Newtons’ bats. Rockdale managed to plate a run in their half of the inning.
In the top of the fourth, the Boykin- Davis tandem was back at it as an infield single by Boykin and a routine single-turned triple due to an outfield blunder lead to the Rams’ fourth run of the night.
But in the Bulldogs’ half of the frame, a nice 4-6-3 double play between Israel Dixon and Jamal Boykin rescued Newton from another tight spot.
The Rams’ offense was quiet in the fifth, but Rockdale managed to score one run in the inning making it 4-3, Newton still leading.
Though the game had gotten tight, the Rams took advantage of a walk and a few errors en route to scoring what looked to be an insurance run in the sixth putting them up 5-3 at the top of the inning. But that’s when things began to unravel.
Three straight walks in the bottom of the sixth opened the flood gates for the Rockdale offense. Redman struggled to find command, forcing head coach Andre Byrd to turn to Jamal Boykin in relief on the mound. All told, the Rams allowed eight runs in that pivotal inning which was more than enough to shatter their two-run lead.
Newton did manage a miniature three-run rally in the seventh, but it was too little, too late.
After the game, Byrd commented on the sixth-inning collapse.
“You have to play seven innings,” Byrd said. But he also remarked on the strength of the Rams’ bats throughout the night.
“We had 15 hits. We haven’t had 15 hits in a single game all year,” he said. “We hit the ball very, very well. And we pitched well up until one inning.”
The Rams continue their region stint with Rockdale Wednesday night when they host the Bulldogs with first pitch slated for 5:45 p.m.