Newton All-Stars finish second in state

COVINGTON - The Newton County Majors All-Star baseball team had its share of lows and highs.

The team experienced the thrill of making it to the state tournament and the low of losing the third game of the state championship series.

Prior the championship series, which is a best-of-three, the Majors won 11 straight games. They won all six district games and five games at state before losing to Albany.

After beating Albany 9-2 Friday, the teams came back Saturday with Albany in a must-win situation.

"I think that kids being kids they were a little bit overconfident. We just didn't show up and they beat us 12-2," Majors coach Ricky Vaughn said.

Newton County jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning of the third game before giving up three runs in the bottom of the inning. The score remained the same until the sixth and final inning.

"We had two on and two outs and Robert Gahwiler hit a three-run homer and made it 5-3. The place was just wild," Vaughn said.

After giving up a leadoff walk, Newton County kept the next two batters off the bases. The Majors walked Albany's home-run hitter and then gave up a triple to tie the game.

A wild pitch allowed the game-winning run to score for Albany.

"We left 11 runners on base," Vaughn said. "Any time you lose a state championship game, you're disappointed. But the fact that he hit it with two outs and two strikes in the sixth, it was so disappointing. We're all disappointed right now, but what you're trying to do is get the kids better. All 12 got better during the process which is really what you're looking for."

The team started off its run at a state championship with a 5-3 win over Thomaston. After getting the opening-day jitters out of the way, they overpowered their competition until the championship series.

"We beat Mountain Park 18-0, that's the Parkview kids," Vaughn said. "We beat Brookwood 6-0, Pike County 10-2 and Lee County 9-1. We dominated pretty much. But Albany had done the same thing on the other side.

"If we played them 10 times, it would probably be five and five for each team. They just won when

it counted."

Despite its success, nobody really thought the team would advance as far as it did in the state championship. The Majors were probably considered the underdog team before it started.

"This is a group that the expectations were not real high," Vaughn said. "Any time you pick an all-star team, you wonder if you got the right 12 with as many good kids as we have. I sat down with our staff, I do this with every team, and asked if there was somebody we left out and we were pretty much all in agreement that we got the right 12."

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils