Prep Baseball

East Coweta routs Newnan in series opener 12-1

by Doug Gorman

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Jeffrey Leo

East Coweta’s Cam Smith can’t get to home plate before being tagged out by Newnan senior catcher Sam Buchanan during Tuesday’s Region 3-AAAAAA baseball game at Joe Pope Field.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know there’s going to be plenty of drama in this week’s three-game series between East Coweta-and Newnan.

Tuesday afternoon, the first game of the Region 3-AAAAAA baseball series went to East Coweta with the Indians rolling 12-1 at Joe Pope Field.

East Coweta outhit Newnan 12-3 and overcame three errors en route to the victory. Ten of the Indians’ hits came from the first four spots in the line up.

Winning on the road was a big lift for the Indians, but head coach Franklin DeLoach knows his team can’t relax.

“This is just one-third of what we are trying to accomplish,” DeLoach said. “In a three-game series, it’s a marathon. But we went out there and did what we were supposed to do tonight.”

The victory pushed the Indians overall record to 20-1 and 10-0 in region play. Newnan dropped to 17-3 and 9-1 in 3-AAAAAA, now one game back. Whomever wins the series clinches the region title, but both teams have already assured themselves home-field advantage once the Class AAAAAA playoffs start.

Clinging to a 3-1 lead, the Indians sent nine batters to the plate and broke the game open with six runs in the sixth inning.

The big sixth-inning blow came off the bat of Jon Banks, who cleared the bases with a grand slam. Designated hitter Bryce Gemmel also had an RBI in the inning while going 4-for-5 with a double and three runs scored. Both were part of a 10-for-17 performance at the top of the order with leadoff hitter Cam Smith and Cole Amtmann. The foursome accounted for 10 of East Coweta’s 12 RBIs.

Banks didn’t know if he had gotten enough of it when the ball first contacted with the bat.

“I wasn’t sure it was gone when I first hit it, I was just trying to put a good swing on it,” Banks said. “Getting this win is huge, it takes some pressure off of us.”

By the end of the sixth, the Indians pushed the lead to 9-1. They added three more runs in the seventh with Travis Williams and Gemmel each adding RBIs in the final inning.

East Coweta grabbed on to the arm of starting pitching Zach McCurry who pitched six innings, struck out four, allowed three hits and walked one. Matthew Myers came in to pitch the seventh and retired Newnan in order, including a strikeout.

(To view photos from this game, please visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports for the Photo Gallery.)

The first three innings became a pitchers duel between McCurry and Newnan starter Thomas Sumner with neither team managing to score.

Sumner retired the first six men he faced, getting one strikeout. McCurry started the game off with a strikeout and also set down the first three Newnan men he faced. He struck out one hitter in each of the first three innings.

“It’s huge, “McCurry said. “It’s a big crosstown rivalry. We know we just had to go out there and play the game.”

East Coweta took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning as Gemmel and Antmann started the inning with singles. Banks drove in the first run of the game with a single to score Gemmel and Meyers added the second run of the game with a sacrifice fly to bring Antmann around to score.

The Indians increased their lead to 3-1 in the top of the on Antmann’s RBI double to score Gemmel.

Newnan scored its only run of the game in the fifth. Cougars pinch hitter Justin Groover got hit by a pitch and scored one batter later when Devin Henry smashed a triple.

The Cougars managed just two more base runners the rest of the game.

Offensively, Banks had the hot bat for the Indians finishing the game with five RBIs. Smith and Gemmel each drove in two runs for the Indians. Amtmann and Manning each added an RBI for the Indians.

Henry had two hits to go along with his RBI for the Cougars.

East Coweta was helped along by some big defensive plays to take hits away from the Cougars, including a couple of long running catches from Amtmann in right.

Newnan head coach Kenny Morris isn’t about to panic over Tuesday night’s loss.

“I thought we hit the ball well enough to win,” he said. “They made some great defensive plays. They came up with some big hits and got on a roll, but that is baseball.”

The two teams play the second of the three-game series Thursday at East Coweta.



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