Nationals knocked out by Newton

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Sports Writer

After a scoreless streak of eight innings came to an end with a five-run third inning against the Newton All-Stars, the Troy National Tournament team appeared to be braking out of its offensive slump at just the right time, taking a 5-3 lead.

But the offense sputtered once again down the stretch, and Newton countered with a five-run spurt in the bottom of the fourth to down Troy, 8-5 Monday at the Troy Sportsplex, eliminating Troy from the tournament.

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Troy collected eight hits in its two losses and failed to score in 11 of 12 innings played. The pitching and defense struggled also. Tobias Lee, Casey Weston and Jacob Halse combined to allow only four hits and fanned nine in Monday’s contest, but walked five batters, four of them scoring runs while the defense committed three costly errors that lead to three more runs. Newton meanwhile, came up with timely hits, clutch pitching and flawless defense to eliminate Troy after two games.

Troy spotted Newton a 3-0 lead after the first inning. A two-out hit in front of a diving Halse, bounced off Barry Rodgers glove and dropped for a single, scoring the first two runs of the game. An error followed, allowing the third run of the inning to cross the plate and Newton jumped out to the early lead.

Troy couldn’t mount any offense off Newton starter Justin Bass, but pounded relief pitcher Kyle Henderson in the third. Tarnorris Hall singled with one out and Lee followed with a double, putting runners at second and third. Andrew Law walked and Weston grounded out to second, scoring Hall with the first run of the tournament. Hawkins Drinkard’s two-out, RBI single cut the lead to 3-2 and Halse drove Henderson’s next offering over the right centerfield fence to give Troy a 5-3 advantage.

The lead would be short-lived as Newton fought back in the fourth. With one out, another Troy error and a walk gave Newton life. After two passed balls moved the runners up ninety-feet, Weston struck out Henderson for the second out. But another walk and a clutch single by John Scott scored two runs, tying the game, 5-5. Another walk loaded the bases and one more free pass scored the go-ahead run. Nick McKnight’s single scored two more runs, giving Newton a three-run cushion.

Troy made things interesting in the top of the sixth against Newton’s third pitcher, Durrell Brackins. Lee started the inning with a walk, but Law struck out and Weston grounded out, giving Troy one out left in its season.

Drinkard prolonged the game with a single, bringing the tying hitter to the plate in Halse. Halse lifted a ball to centerfield, which appeared to be dropping in for a hit. But Justin Garst had other ideas. Garst tracked the ball down, making a spectacular diving catch to end the game and Troy’s season.

Halse had two hits and drove in three runs and Drinkard also had two hits. Weston took the loss for Troy.