Newnan 10, Tri-Cities 0
Senior pitcher adds another shutout in region victory
by Chris Goltermann
Another outing, another shutout win for Thomas Sumner and the Newnan Cougars.
The senior right-hander continued a stellar final varsity campaign on Tuesday, opening a three-game Region 3-AAAAAA series by blanking visiting Tri-Cities 10-0 in a one-hit, eight-strikeout effort that ended after five innings due to the mercy rule at Joe Pope Field.
Sumner, who earlier this year struck out eight in both a 11-0 win over Lovejoy and a 4-0 victory against Griffin in non-region play, continued to baffle opposing hitters against the Bulldogs on Tuesday.
“I thought Thomas pitched great,” said Newnan head coach Kenny Morris after the Cougars improved to 11-3 and stayed unbeaten in 3-AAAAAA after four games. “He’s really had a strong season so far for us.”
The teams wrap up the region series with games Thursday in East Point and Friday, back at Pope Field.
Sumner’s effort allowed Newnan’s bats to slowly chip away at Tri-cities starter DeMarco Boykins, who was victimized for five unearned runs. The Cougars converted twice in the first off a pair of Tri-Cities errors, the latter when designated hitter Brandon Dawson laced a grounder that ricocheted off the foot of second baseman Dominique Francis and caromed into left field.
Despite only being able to take on one more run heading into the fourth, the early lead seemed comfortable with Sumner retiring his last eight batters in order, five of which on strikes.
Tri-Cities’ lone hit came on Nieem Williams’ dribbler down the third-base line to a charging Jake Kniedel, whose throw was just a half-step behind the runner. The Bulldogs’ only other runner came when Boykins drew a one-out walk in the first and was thrown out by Newnan catcher Sam Buchanan to end the inning two batters later.
“I thought Sam did a good job blocking balls, calling the pitches,” Morris said, equally praising his catcher following Tuesday’s win. “He does a good job handling our pitchers too.”
Newnan built a 3-0 lead after two innings despite managing just two singles. Along with two Tri-Cities errors, the Cougars stole three bases, before finally opening things up in their last two at bats off six hits that included five doubles.
Even when Tri-Cities hitters managed to solve Sumner, Newnan’s defense more than carried its share of the load and finishing perfect in the field. With the latter of its two baserunners on in the third, Bulldog leadoff hitter Antwan Booker launched a fly ball to the gap in right-center that Cougar outfielder Devin Henry chased down a few steps short of the fence to end the threat.
Henry later tracked down another fly toward the gap in the fifth hit by Darvell Booker. Both Bookers were the only Tri-Cities batters to hit the ball out of the infield.
Kneidel added a charging catch on a botched bunt attempt in the second in a game where Tri-Cities also connected for one ground-ball, a putout at first to close the top of the fifth.
Newnan’s bats polished the victory off with a five-run barrage in the fifth that included two-run hits by Henry and Will Dreggors on two-out RBI doubles. The rally started when Tri-Cities loaded the bases on a hit-batsman, a double by Charles Reeves and a walk by Rodney Tennie.
Henry, who finished 2-for-3 and scored twice, was able to rope a ball into the right-center gap after fouling three pitches off during a strikeout one inning earlier. Dreggors went 2-for-4 to go with his 2 RBIs.
A two-run fourth for Newnan was highlighted by leadoff doubles by Kneidel and Tennie, who blooped a ball inside the left-field line and raced to second without the need of a slide. Both runners scored on the last of three Tri-Cities errors, two of which came at third off grounders hit by Newnan’s Derrick Nelson.
Nelson ended it one inning later by following Dreggors’ final hit with a single to right, scoring Nelson from second after he moved up when a pickoff attempt
(To view photos from this game, visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports for the Photo Gallery.)