COVINGTON - Newton freshman Darius Hill showed senior-style poise as he not only got the 4-3 eight-inning win over M.L. King Tuesday at Riverside Parkbut also drove in the game-winning run on a walk-off single.
"He got the first game ball of the season," Newton coach Ty Hensley said. "He loves to compete. he's going to go as far as he wants to. He's got all the potential in the world."
M.L. King had a chance to score in the top half of the eighth inning but a solid defense behind Hill kept the Lions from crossing the plate.
With runners on first and second base with one out, Hill threw the ball to Brian Breckon at third for the force out.
The third out came on a line-drive catch by Chris Moss to end the inning.
In the bottom of the inning with one out, Travis McDonald got his second hit of the night before being replaced by pinch-runner Trey Sims.
After stealing second, Sims stole third base, putting the winning run 90 feet away.
"That's a mile (run). He missed the sign but it worked out," Hensley said.
"That was a game that we had to win. They competed well and got the job done. They made some bone-head mistakes but they still did a great job. That's all we ask for."
At the plate, Hill was 1-for-1 and had two strikeouts while walking three batters and allowing one hit in two innings of work.
Nick Hembree kept the Rams in the game, pitching 42/3 innings.
He fanned three batters while walking two and gave up four hits.
The Rams got on the board first when Clay Johnson drove Job Cannon home in the bottom of the first inning.
Newton had a chance to regain the lead in the bottom of the second after the Lions tied the game on a walk with bases loaded. Instead, they left the bases loaded after putting three runners on base with one out.
In all, Newton left eight runners stranded, five in scoring position.
"I lost count as to how many runners we left on base. We've got to take advantage of having runners in scoring position," Hensley said.
An error in the top of the fifth inning allowed M.L. King to take a 2-1 lead before Newton responded with two runs of its own in the home half of the inning.
With two outs, Dustin Daniel was able to take advantage of a fielding error by Lions center fielder Anthony Smith. After a Johnson single, Smith missed the ball allowing, Daniel to cross the plate and tie the game unchallenged.
Sims put the Rams in front 3-2 on a Breckon single into right field.
"That was huge, I think that was the game. We competed well and they stayed in the game," Hensley said. I think that was our momentum."
The Lions tied the game in the top of the sixth and were able to keep Newton from crossing the plate, sending the game into extra innings.
Johnson and McDonald paced the Rams offensively with two hits each, with one of McDonald's hits going for a double.
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.