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Rams give away game, chance for playoffs

COVINGTON -- Errors in the field and mental mistakes on the base path turned a possible Newton win and a chance to play in the Class AAAAA playoffs into a 14-inning 3-1 loss to Westlake at Riverside Park on Monday.

"We had every chance in the world to get it done but we couldn't do it," Newton head coach Vincent Byams said. "It shouldn't have gotten to this point."

The Rams got on the board first with a two-out, first-inning solo home run Ryan McCraine. Unfortunately, that was the only offensive output the Rams could muster. In 14 innings of play, Newton only had six hits with the last one, a double by Zack Sullivan, coming in the ninth inning.

"We didn't hit the ball well," Byams said. "One run in 14 innings is not going to get it done at any level."

The Lions tied the game in the top of the fourth inning. It all started when what should have been a routine double play put runners on second and third base. After Tripp Lofton struck out the batter for the second out, the catcher tried to throw the batter out at third base. Instead, the ball sailed into left field. The Rams had a chance to get the runner out at home but the ball was bobbled, allowing Westlake to tie the game.

"Tripp pitched an excellent game. He gave us nine innings and really had no earned runs," Byams said. "That's all you can ask out of your senior pitcher. He put us in the situation to win but we just couldn't take advantage of it."

The Rams could have won it in the bottom of the seventh inning if not for a base-running error. With two outs and a full count on Newton's Jeremy Laguins, the runners started to advance before the pitcher committed to the plate. Rather than giving Laguins a chance to get a hit, the runner was thrown out at third base to end the inning.

Newton also had a chance to put the game away but left it on the base path early in extra innings. McCraine hit a high pop up which was moving uncontrollably in the eighth inning with a runner on first base. Rather than moving to halfway up the base path, the runner stayed on first base. When the ball hit the ground, it was an easy throw to second base for the force out.

"We had terrible base running. It shouldn't have gotten to this point," Byams said. "We ran ourselves in scoring position but we ran ourselves out of the innings."

Westlake scored twice in the top of the 14th inning, both unearned. The first run came when the batter was hit with bases loaded. The final run occurred when a high pop fly fell to the ground untouched between several Newton defenders.