Rams waste Loftin's solid pitching effort
Despite Tripp Loftin’s outstanding pitching performance, Newton dropped a region game 6-2 to the Newnan Cougars Friday night at home. Only one of Newnan’s two hits off Loftin left the infield, but an error-filled fifth inning doomed the Rams and dropped their region record to 1-2.
Over six innings, Loftin yielded only one earned run. The Rams came back from an early 1-0 deficit on a two-run homer by Ryan Mccranie. But Newton’s failure to field bunts and three straight errors resulted in a three-run fifth for the Cougars that provided the margin of victory.
After surrendering four walks and one earned run in the first two innings, Tripp steadied the ship recording four strikeouts with another 10 of his outs on balls kept in the infield.
“It was pretty obvious what happened tonight,” Newton coach Vincent By- ams said. “Tripp Loftin pitched a great game giving up only one hit out of the infield, but we didn’t play good defense to support him.”
While the Rams committed six errors, Newnan played error-free baseball and excellent small-ball.
In the top of the first, Loftin walked the first two batters. A bunt back to the pitcher was fielded cleanly, but the runner from second was safe at third on the force play attempt. The Cougar clean-up hit- ter grounded out to first scoring the run from third. Loftin got out of the inning with no further damage, striking out the next hitter and getting the third out on a ground out.
Allen Bowen and Mccranie led the Ram offense, both going 2-fo-3. In the bottom of the fourth, Bowen led off with a double to deep right field. Mccranie followed with his fourth home run of the year to left. Sherman Graves was hit
by a pitch, but Newton could do no more damage as they took a 2-1 lead going to the fifth.
In the top of the fifth, Loftin allowed a walk and an infield hit. An infield error on a potential double play loaded the bases. Successful bunts scored runs on suicide squeeze plays. Compounding the successful squeeze plays, the Rams made things worse by committing errors on the plays to first, allowing Newnan runners to scamper around the bases to recapture the lead at 4-2.
In the top of the sixth another Ram error allowed the first hitter to reach base and Newnan put two runners at second and third after a walk and sacrifice bunt. But a grounder to first and sparkling diving catch in right by Sherman Graves ended the Cougar half of the inning.
The Rams put two runners on in the bottom of the sixth, but were unable to bring them in to score. Then in the top of the seventh a lead-off single was followed by the Ram’s final error of the game to put two on with no outs. Mccranie came on in relief and got the first two outs before giving up a single that scored both Cougar runners. The Rams were retired in order in the bottom of the seventh, ending the game.
The Rams dropped to 1-2 in region 2-AAAAA play and 5-6 overall. Newnan improved to 30 in the region and 8-1 overall. Newton plays Archer at home Wednesday in non-region play and travels to Langston Hughes and East Coweta on Tuesday and Friday for region games.