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Rams drop pair despite solid pitching
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The Newton Rams dropped two non-region games to start the week, falling 4-0 to Shiloh on Monday and 7-1 to Lakeside on Tuesday.

In Monday's game Tripp Loftin pitched all seven innings, giving up three earned runs. He surrendered eight hits but recorded seven strikeouts. The Rams had runners in scoring position in four straight innings, but were unable to come up with clutch hits to break through against Shiloh pitching.

In the third inning, Yurel James and Allen Bowen started off with singles, but the threat was erased by a Shiloh Generals double-play. After leaving two runners stranded in the fourth, the Rams put two runners on again in the fifth. Loftin reached first on an error and Ryan McCrainie followed with a short fly ball to center that fell in between three Shiloh players. But a strikeout and bouncer back to the mound ended the inning.

Daniel Croom led off the bottom of the sixth with a single. Shawn Guckenberger was hit by a pitch, but the Rams were once again retired with Croom erased at second and two strikeouts. In the seventh, an unearned run for Shiloh pushed the lead to 4-0 and the Rams were then retired in order to end the game.

Tuesday night, in a rain-shortened game against the Lakeside Vikings, Guckenberger pitched five innings giving up three runs, but all unearned. Newton then allowed four runs to cross the plate in the top of the sixth on two walks, two hits, and a liner to left that was miss-played into a triple. The four run inning sealed the victory for Lakeside and the game was called in a downpour in the seventh.

After Lakeside was retired in the first with their one base runner thrown out attempting to steal by McCranie, the Rams mounted an early threat. Tripp Lofton was hit by a pitch and Sherman Graves followed with a single. McCranie drew a walk to load the bases. Croom hit a hard line drive, but it was snagged by the Lakeside shortstop and the Newton runner at second was doubled off to end the inning.

The Vikings threatened to score in the top of the second, but a 4-6-3 double play was turned by the Rams with Loftin digging out a low throw to first to save a run.

After picking up an unearned run in the third, Lakeside added two more unearned runs in the top of the fifth. The Rams managed to close the score to 3-1 in the bottom of the inning. Tristan McInnerny drove in Zack Sullivan, who had led off the inning with a double. On the night, however, Newton managed only two hits and committed three crucial errors that led to Lakeside runs. The bright spot defensively in the outfield was Sherman Graves' excellent play in right field, running down several fly balls.

Coach Vincent Byams of Newton said that the Rams got good enough pitching to win both games, but lack of timely hitting and lapses in defense cost them dearly. Newton will have to pick up their level of play as region play began Thursday at MLK High School.