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Rams handle Lions' roar
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The Newton Rams will join Alcovy in the second round of the winner's bracket in the Region 2-AAAAAA postseason tournament, outlasting the Luella Lions 5-3 Tuesday night at Alcovy.

Newton carried its 2-run lead into the seventh inning, but the Lions threatened the Rams' opening round win.
With two outs in the inning, Luella sent the go-ahead run in Laurel Wynn to face Newton pitcher Maddie Cronic.

Despite a pair of singles from Wynn earlier in the game, Cronic forced Wynn into a ground out to close the contest, ending the Lions' threat.

"We've been talking about finishing games all season," Newton coach Virginia Waters said. "We were able to finish this game. We got into a couple of spots that we didn't want to be in, but we made the plays when we needed to make them. We get to move on and that's what matters right now."

Cronic finished with six strikeouts in seven innings, allowing three runs on three hits. The Rams also committed five errors in the fourth inning, allowing two Luella runs, struggling defensively when the Lions put the ball into play.

Down 3-0 in the fourth, Newton allowed the Lions to trim the lead to a single run thanks to a lapse in defensive judgment.

The Lions plated their first run on a Wynn single up the middle, cutting the Rams' advantage to 2-1 after back-to-back walks from Cronic. Shelby Godfrey crossed the plate one batter later on a Newton throwing error, trimming Newton's lead to 3-2.

The Rams responded in the fifth inning, adding a pair of insurance runs to their 1-run lead.

Cronic aided her effort on the mound with an RBI-single plating lead-off batter Ciara Bryan and Cronic crossed home on a Bri Weaver double. Weaver was thrown out at third attempting to stretch her base knock into a triple, but the damage was already done, as the Rams extended their lead to 5-2.

Luella added a run in the sixth inning on a Wynn single down the third baseline, but the Lions were unable to cross the plate in the seventh inning with the game on the line.

"Maddie came through and made some big pitches for us late in the game," Water said. "She really had to step up after two early walks in the last inning and she handled the pressure well."

Newton scored its first three runs in the opening frame, jumping out to a 3-0 lead.

Cronic scored Ciara Bryan after Bryan reached base with a triple, sending home the game's first run with an infield single.

Ashley Weesner plated Bri Weaver with an RBI-single to double the Rams' advantage, and Weesner crossed home on a Luella throwing error for the Rams' final run of the inning.

Bryan and Cronic finished with a pair of hits apiece for the Rams, with Cronic leading the game with two RBIs.
Wynn also finished with two hits for the Lions and two RBIs.

Luella pitcher Bre Washington pitched a complete six innings for the Lions, allowing five runs on seven hits. Washington also had four strikeouts in the loss.

With the win, Newton will face Alcovy in the second round of the region tournament.

"Alcovy is a tough team, and we are going to have to clean up our game before playing them," Waters said. "I know it's a short turnaround, but I believe the girls can do it. They are a team that can take advantage of errors, and we don't want to give them that. We don't want to give them extra chances to score."

The Tigers beat the Rams earlier this season in Newton's only region loss of the year.

Game time is set for 6:30 p.m.