Baseball season is in full swing in Newton County, which was easy to judge just by taking a look at the bevy of baseball action peppered across the area during the winter break week.
All three county schools were in action this past weekend, and even this weekend, playing non-region matchups to prepare for the soon-coming region grind.
Eastside nets three big wins this past week
Eastside used the power of the bat again and again to notch its third straight win as it defeated Hart County 13-9 on Wednesday night.
For the Eagles it was game three of a winter break home stand at Eagle Field, which also included a 14-4 win against Alcovy and an 11-3 route of Newton. Wednesday’s game, though, was the team’s second matchup against the Bulldogs. Going for the sweep, the Eagles put senior Michael Hipps on the mound to start the night.
Hipps settled in after giving up three quick runs in the first inning, allowing two singles and a double off the top of the Bulldog lineup.
Relying on a combination of fastballs and off-speed pitches, Hipps kept the Bulldog hitters guessing incorrectly the majority of the night after that three-run blitz, as he threw 18 first-pitch strikes over five innings.
In what became a hard fought back and forth battle, it would be the red hot Eagles’ bats proving to be the difference maker.
Senior Austin Holloway led the charge with three hits while Cody Moody, Tanner Feeney, Riley Ralston and Ryan Shirley all collected multiple hits themselves. Jackson Watts made his debut tonight for the Eagles and hit a solid line drive up the middle, nearly taking the Bulldog pitcher down.
Sonny Vargas — who helped with four quality at-bats — and Colby Shivers drew three walks apiece. Coming in to close the game out for Hipps was a smooth combination of relief pitching by Erik Shirley and Cole Green.
Green sealed the game when he induced a ground ball to second baseman Noah Cook for the game’s final out.
The win improved the Eagles to 5-1 in the young season. They’ll get a short reprieve before traveling to Chestatee (0-4-1) on Monday.
Newton bats come alive against Woodland, Salem
The Newton Rams found a familiar result against a familiar opponent on Wednesday night, as they coasted to a 7-2 home win over Woodland. It was the second victory over the Wolfpack, with the first one coming in a 13-2 season opener triumph, and it marked the 50th win for Rams coach Andre Byrd.
It was a good bounce-back from Monday’s 11-4 loss to in-county rival Eastside, and serves as a chance for the Rams to grab a little momentum in the non-region schedule.
On Friday the Rams began a two-game series with Salem. Newton hosted the first game which ended in a 10-0 shutout. In that game, Parker Kauffman starred for the Rams, going 4-for-4 at the plate, with a triple, two doubles and a single. His work drove in four RBIs.
Meanwhile on the mound, it was Jacob Redmon getting it done for Newton, pitching a two-hitter with five shutout innings, while fanning seven batters. Kauffman and CJ Thomas, both juniors, are both batting .455 through the first seven games, helping the Rams to a 4-3 start.
This week’s wins helped Newton coach Andre Byrd reach the 50-win coaching mark with Newton. The Rams will travel to Salem Monday for game two in their series, which is slated for a 5:30 p.m. first pitch.
Alcovy seeing mixed results, gradual improvement early on
Alcovy coach Ashley Senn will tell you that his Tigers are a steady work in progress as he gets further into his second season at the program’s helm. And this week provided a sort of microcosm of his early ups and downs.
After losing to Eastside, the Tigers bounced back with a 5-2 win at Hampton this past Thursday, only to follow it up with a pair of Saturday losses to Griffin in a doubleheader on the road. The Tigers dropped both to the Bears, 12-2 and 7-0, causing them to fall to 2-5 on the season.
Alcovy will get a shot at some redemption this week, though. Monday’s rematch with Hampton begins a three game home stand, including a Thursday game against Eastside. That will be the Tigers’ last non-region tune-up before kicking off Region 2-AAAAAA play with a three game series against Evans starting next Monday, March 6.