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Newton seniors finish on high note with win

COVINGTON -- Even though the Rams did not make it to the Class AAAAA playoffs, they did end their season on a high note with a 5-3 win over Rockdale on Wednesday.

The Rams did something that they have not done in the previous six seasons: Finish at .500 or better. The last time Newton, which ended the 2012 season with a 13-13 record, finished with a winning record was in 2006, when it was 16-11.

"It was an up-and-down season, but we came in strong towards the end. We worked hard this whole offseason to get to this point," said Newton head coach Vincent Byams. "We fell a little short of our goal of making it to the state playoffs. But this is the first time in a while that Newton baseball has been at .500 to end the season."

It didn't start well for the Rams when Rockdale (7-14) got on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning, scoring two runs, one earned and one unearned.

However, Rockdale quickly returned the favor as an error not only allowed Newton to score but also loaded the bases. The next batter, Daniel Croom, hit a base-clearing double to make it 4-2.

Croom also got the win, pitching 6-plus innings allowing five hits while striking out two batters, walking four and hitting two.

Newton's other run, by senior Tripp Loftin in the third, was also helped by an error allowing Allen Bowen to bring in the run on an infield ground out.

"I think we gave up one or two earned runs. If we do that we should win games," Rockdale head coach Jason Arrington said. "But when you boot the ball around and give up three or four unearned and we only put up three it's hard to win."

Even though the Bulldogs were down, they never gave up, closing the gap in the sixth inning on a JD Kirkman sacrifice fly.

"We're going to try to carry that (momentum) into (today) and try to get a couple of W's and see what happens," Arrington said. "That's just our story; we've had a rough season but never quit."

Newton's top hitter, Loftin, went 2-for-2 with Bowen going 1-for-2 with two RBI's. Croom was 1-for-3 with three RBI's.

Pacing the Bulldogs at the plate was John Martin, who was 2-for-3 with a double and one RBI. Rockdale's other extra-base hit was by Matt Ward, who had a double in the sixth inning.

"It's definitely something we can build on," Byams said. "We played a lot better baseball in the second half of the season. If we can build upon what we did in the second half into the summer and the fall we'll definitely make some noise next year. Especially with the young talent we have (returning)."