Cougars close out Tri-Cities despite losing senior 3B
EAST POINT — On a day where Newnan’s baseball team was hit with as tough a loss off the field in a season-ending injury to senior third-baseman Jake Kneidel, Cougar pitchers gave further reason to believe that all was not lost for the 2014 season.
Heys Rowan and reliever Chris Turner combined for 10 strikeouts on a two-hit shutout as Newnan capped off a Region 3-AAAAAA series sweep of Tri-Cities on Friday with a 5-0 road victory.
Senior Walker Sandlin posted a pair of hits while taking over at third for Kneidel, who reportedly broke one of his ring fingers after being plunked twice by Tri-Cities pitcher Demarco Boykin in Thursday’s 6-0 victory at Joe Pope Field.
“Jake’s probably done. He’s our No. 3 hitter [in the order] and one of our top players,” said Cougars head coach Marc Gilmore. “But we’re fortunate that we have guys ready to get an opportunity like Walker, who’s ready to step in.”
Between the final two victories over the Bulldogs, Newnan outscored Tri-Cities 11-0 with its pitchers recording 27 strikeouts.
After fanning the side in the final inning of Thursday’s win, Rowan continued his success against the Bulldogs into the first five innings of Friday’s victory, allowing two hits and striking out seven.
Moving up in the order to Kneidel’s No. 3 position in the order, Newnan first baseman Caleb McElwaney continued a week-long tear at the plate, belting two more hits including a single during a two-run third inning.
The 2-0 advantage for the Cougars held into the seventh before padding the lead on Justin Groover’s two-out double while finishing with 2 RBIs.
A sweep of winless Tri-Cities kept Newnan right behind 3-AAAAAA leader East Coweta at 5-1 in the region while now 8-8 overall.
Up next is a chance to avenge a loss to Westlake from March 19 in the final two games of the teams’ region series. Newnan hosts the Lions on Monday before traveling to Atlanta on Tuesday for a pair of 5:30 p.m. starts.