The Newton High Rams exacted revenge Monday night against rival Rockdale County High, defeating the Bulldogs 6-5 on the diamond in Region 2-AAAAAA action.
The win helped Newton secure its top spot in the region, while improving the Rams record to 10-8 overall, while Rockdale dropped to 9-9 overall and 3-4 in region play.
“We haven’t been in this position for a while here at Newton,” Newton coach Andre Byrd said. “I asked them, ‘Do you want to be here or do you want to fall back to the pack.’ They decided they wanted to stay in the driver’s seat.”
The Rams sent Kenny Glover to the mound as the starter and he came out looking strong.
In the first inning, Glover didn’t allow a hit and his only base runner was a walked a batter.
The Bulldogs sent Will Hardy to the mound as their starter, but he came out a bit shaky in the opening frame. The Rams came out in the bottom of the first looking to take the lead and they did just that. M.J. Boykin scored the first run of the game on a triple hit by Daniel Croom and Newton plated another run after Shawn Guckenberger scored on a wild pitch.
With a 2-0 lead, Glover took down the first batter he faced in the second inning, but the next batter advanced to first base on an error and Glover followed by surrendering a hit to Tyler Page. However, Glover regained his form and got out of the jam, ending the inning without surrendering a run.
Hardy found some momentum in the second inning after struggling early. He surrendered a hit to the first batter he faced, but he took down his next one on a pop-up and ended the inning without giving up a score.
After settling in, the Bulldogs’ bats came to life in the third inning, trimming Newton’s lead. Hardy forced Glover into a walk and Malachi Eskin followed with a double, putting a pair of runners on base for Rockdale.
The Bulldogs scored their first run of the game on a sacrifice fly from Jeff Sweat and tied the game up at 2-2 on an RBI-single from Terrell McLaughlin.
In the third, Croom gave the Rams a base runner by advancing to second base on a Rockdale error. Three batters later, Croom scored on a single by Josh Prince, putting the Rams back in front 3-2.
The Bulldogs’ bats remained alive in the fourth, as Rockdale took the lead in the inning. Hardy hit an RBI-single, bringing in the tying run, and Rockdale went in front on the scoreboard after a sac-fly from Eskin. The Bulldogs added to their lead on an RBI single from Sweat, jumping out to a 5-3 advantage.
The bottom half of the inning saw Hardy take down the first batter he faced, but an error by the Bulldogs gave the Rams a base runner. Mason Calloway scored on a sac-fly by Boykin, trimming Rockdale’s lead to 5-4.
Allen Bowen took the mound for the Rams in the fifth inning and he did not disappoint. Bowen struck out his first batter and took down his next two on ground balls and the Rams’ offense responded in kind.
In the fifth, Bowen hit a double into the gap and Philip Rowe scored on a wild pitch, tying the game again at 5-5. Hardy sat down the next three batters, but Rockdale was unable to add a run in the sixth, giving Newton a chance late in the contest.
With one out, Calloway advanced to second base on an error by Rockdale and the Rams regained the lead after Calloway scored on a double hit by Boykin, breaking the evened score and giving Newton a 6-5 lead.
“I just wanted to put the ball in play so we could get that run” Boykin said. “I wanted to hit it over the wall but I was happy I just got it out there.”
Bowen remained on the mound for the Rams in the seventh inning and continued to look strong. He delivered strikeouts on the first two batters he faced, but got stuck in a jam with next batter.
Bowen allowed a base hit and another base runner was put in play for Rockdale after an infield error by the Rams, but, Bowen got out of the jam and struck out his next batter, sealing the win.
“It was a tough game” Rockdale coach Justin Arrington said. “But that’s how baseball is; you’ve got to be in the game every pitch.”
Rockdale will have the chance to rebound Tuesday at home against Luella, while the Rams are off until next week when they face region foe Lovejoy.