Newton 13, Wayne 12 (Game 3)
Prairie View wasn't quite able to pull off a second straight comeback as Newton County (Miss.) held on for a 13-12 victory Saturday night to advance in the MAIS Class 2A baseball playoffs.
Newton won Tuesday's series opener 13-5 in Decatur, Mississippi. With the best-of-three series wrapping up in Bastrop on Saturday, the Spartans overcame a 4-0 deficit in a 6-4 Game 2 win to force a double header.
Riding the momentum of the Game 2 comeback, the Spartans started Game 3 on a positive note. Zach Kyzar led off the game with a fly ball to right-center off the tip of center fielder Dalton Daniel's glove. Backing up the play, right fielder Andrew Janes snared the ball on the carom for the first out.
Despite Janes' miraculous catch, Newton grabbed a 4-0 lead on two walks, three errors and Richard Horton's two-run single.
Prairie View countered with two in its half of the first on base hits by Layton Rainbolt and Tanner Caldwell, Blake Ray's RBI groundout and Hunter Herring's run-scoring double.
The tone of the game had been set. NCA would add to its lead, but could never quite put the Spartans away.
"We dug ourselves a hole early with some boots and mistakes, but hats off to these kids," Prairie View coach Bo Barton said. "A lot of teams would have shut it down. Our kids showed tremendous character. They kept fighting and gave themselves a chance to win. I'm proud of them."
Newton went up 6-2 with single markers in the second and third. Prairie View drew within 6-5 with three in its half of the third, before the Generals put up two more in the fourth.
Down 8-5, the Spartans leveled at 8-8 in the fifth on Jacob Fortner's sacrifice fly and Rainbolt's two-out, two-run single.
Regaining the upper hand, NCA sent 11 batters to the plate in a five-run sixth. RBI singles by Richard Horton, Dalton Sibley and Kyzar handed the Generals a 13-8 advantage.
As it turned out, 13 runs would be just enough.
Clawing its way back into the game, the Spartans picked up three in the home half of the sixth.
Blake Ray drew a free pass with one away and Herring doubled just inside the left field line to set the table for Hayes Crockett's' two-run single. Jacob Fortner followed with a base hit to left and moved to second uncontested, placing runners at second and third with still only one out. Daniel squeezed Crockett home, reducing the deficit to 13-11.
Herring struck out the side in the top of the seventh to keep the Spartans' hopes alive.
Rainbolt started the Spartans' seventh with a base hit to center field and moved to second on Auston Smith's groundout. With Prairie View down to its final out, Ray ripped an RBI single to center and swiped second.
Next, Herring walked and both runners advanced on a double steal. Making like a hockey goalie, Horton went to his knees in foul territory to smother the low throw to third base and prevent the tying run. It would turn out to be a game-saving play as Kemp Alderman induced a game-ending fly out to Kyzar in center field.
"Newton's a great ballclub, very well-coached and fundamentally sound," said Barton, the first-year Prairie View coach whose first team won the District 6-2A title and finished 23-4. "We battled our tails off against a good team. I can't say nothing but good things about their effort and what they did."
Alderman worked 2.1 innings to gain the win in relief of Horton.
Sibley went 3-for-4 with two RBI to lead the Generals at the plate. Horton drove in three runs with a pair of singles, Braxton Rose and Bailey McDill doubled and Kyzar and Zach Joyner singled. Alderman, who homered twice in Game 2, was 0-for-0 while reaching base in all five trips to the plate in Game 3 (four walks — three intentionally — and one HBP).
Prairie View out-hit the Generals 11-9. Rainbolt accounted for three singles, Herring cranked a pair of doubles and scored three runs, Fortner drove in three runs with two singles and a sac fly, Ray had two singles and two RBI, and Caldwell and Crockett singled. Counting his final at bat in Game 2, Ouellette was hit by a pitch in four straight plate appearances.
Newton (20-11) advances to face District 2-4A rival Wayne in the semifinals.