Prep Baseball: Newnan overcomes miscues, rallies past LaGrange
By DOUG GORMAN
It’s not every day a baseball team can commit six errors and come through with a victory.
On a cold and windy Tuesday, the Newnan Cougars found a way. Newnan used a two-run rally in the sixth inning to knock off visiting LaGrange 7-5 at Joe Pope Field.
Newnan head coach Kenny Morris isn’t worried about one bad defensive game.
“I still think the our defense is the strong point of our team,” he said. “You are going to have games like this. I think the biggest thing defensively is we haven’t been on the field a whole lot because of the weather.”
With the game tied 5-5, Newnan took a lead for good in the bottom of the sixth.
Devin Henry began the Cougars’ rally after getting hit by a pitch to start the inning. Derrick Nelson then sacrificed Henry to second on a bunt. Senior center-fielder Rodney Tennie drove Henry in with a base hit to give the Cougars’ a 6-5 lead.
After advancing to second on the throw home following an attempt to cut down Henry at the plate, Tennie went to third when Jonathan Swenson flied out to right field. Tennie then scored when Grangers pitcher Austin Rogers was called for a balk.
Newnan helped its cause with a nine-hit performance as starting pitcher Thomas Sumner picked up a victory.
(To view photos from this game, visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports for the Photo Gallery.)
After spotting the Grangers a unearned run in the top of the first inning, Sumner retired eight consecutive batters to open the game. The senior right-hander finished with four strikeouts while not yielding a walk.
“He did a great job of throwing the baseball tonight,” Morris said. “I am so proud of his effort.”
Will Dreggors came on for Sumner in the top of the seventh to pick up a save after the Grangers brought the potential tying run to the plate. The Grangers’ Jack Bradford reached on a one-out error to start the comeback attempt, but the game ended one batter later when Price Peters grounded into a double play.
Balks were a big part of the non-region game.
With Newnan up 5-1, the Grangers pushed four runs across the plate in the fourth. The third run of the inning came across when Bradford scored from third on balk.
The call twice brought Morris out of the Cougars’ dugout. Balks — once a rarity — have become a constant throughout high school games during the first two weeks of the season. Peters was also able to advance to third on the balk, and he scored one batter later on Jake Norton’s base hit to tie the game.
Both of Lagrange’s two errors came to open the game as Nelson and Tennie reached to help set up a pair of unearned runs for Newnan off Brandon Dawson’s two-run double. The Newnan designated hitter later scored on a wild pitch to give Newnan a 3-1 lead while finishing with two doubles and three RBIs. His double in the second inning scored Henry.
Catcher Sam Buchanan also had an RBI single to push the Cougars’ lead to 5-1.
“I thought we did a great job of hitting the ball tonight,” Morris said. “There were a lot of balls we hit on the barrel.”
Four Newnan players were also hit by pitches, resulting in three runs.
Four of LaGrange’s six hits came in its fifth-inning rally. Leadoff hitter Bryce Todd scored two runs for the Grangers.
Newnan travels to Carrollton on Thursday.
“The biggest thing for us is we bounced back after not playing well last week,” Morris said. “We had a great practice Monday, and we were able to carry it over until today.”