By Josh Brown
PLEASANT HILL — As it turns out, the Newton baseball team didn’t set a new school record for wins Tuesday night at Tri-Village.
They got to save that moment for Senior Night.
The Indians honored their seven seniors Wednesday night with a solid effort on all fronts, as the offense piled up 13 hits and Nash Lavy pitched a complete game and scattered six hits in a 10-2 Newton win — the team’s 23rd victory of the season.
“Come to find out, the record was 22. We tied it last night,” Newton coach Jordan Kopp said. “The 1995 team won 22 games, won the district and lost in the regional final, and they were 22-8 I believe. So that’s a 22-year-old record, and it goes to what our seniors have done.
“We started this four years ago, and our seniors bought into everything we said. We give a lot of credit to those guys, and to the guys we’ve had in the past. The seniors are our core group, they’re our leaders on and off the field, and that’s what we need to be successful.”
And the Indians certainly have been successful.
The win made them 23-2 on the season, 10-2 in Cross County Conference play, and the Indians are currently ranked No. 2 in the latest OHSBCA state poll. And as for the seniors — Austin Evans, Rhett Gipe, Nelson Clymer, Troy Denlinger, Noah Williams, Grant Bayer and Milan Bess — Newton has gone 80-28 over the course of their careers, including winning back-to-back sectional championships the past two years.
But after earning the No. 2 seed in this year’s sectional tournament, Kopp also knows that Newton needs to remain focused.
“Like I told those guys after the game, once the tournament starts, you’re back to 0-0,” he said. “Your state ranking means nothing. Anybody can win any game. We’ve got to make sure we’re back to doing the basics, getting bunts down, things like that. We should be successful — but when the tournament starts, anything can happen.”
Wednesday, everything that happened went Newton’s way.
Evans and Treg Jackson led off the game with back-to-back singles and moved up to second and third in a wild pitch, then Gipe hit an RBI sac fly to the second baseman in shallow right field for the game’s first run. Charlie Walker added a two-out RBI single, and the Indians led 2-0. And a two-out rally in the bottom of the second was cashed in on a two-run bloop single by Jackson, giving Newton an early four-run lead.
Ansonia loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the third, though, with Rygh Fortkamp driving in one run with an RBI single to center — but Newton center fielder Denlinger gunning out a second runner trying to score at the plate to end the inning. And in the top of the fourth, Ansonia got another run with Devin Sink collecting an RBI single, but with runners on the corners, Newton catcher Gipe gunned out the runner attempting to steal second on a delayed double steal, preventing another run from coming in.
“That’s just the type of kid he is,” Kopp said of Gipe. “Defensively, he’s a wall back there. Nothing gets past him — and he’s a 90-mile-per-hour arm from the crow hop, and it shows. When other teams see him throw it in warm-ups, they’re not running. We make sure there’s a emphasis so the other team sees him throw it, too.”
And with the Tigers having cut the lead to 4-2, the Indians put the game away with a four-run fourth inning.
With runners on the corners, Gipe ripped an RBI single to left field. Clymer followed with an RBI groundout and Walker had an RBI single, with the Indians aggressively taking the extra base on every hit or play possible. Walker — the only runner left on base at the time — stole second, then on a hit-and-run he was able to score from second base on an error by the shortstop that never left the infield off the bat of Williams to make it an 8-2 game.
Gipe added another RBI sac fly in the fifth and Ryan Mollette had an RBI single in the sixth to make it 10-2 — and Lavy did the rest on the mound. He finished with 10 strikeouts and allowed six hits, walking two and hitting a batter. And in the top of the seventh, the Indians erased a leadoff error as Mollette made a tough catch in center field and fired to first to double off the runner.
For the Indians, Evans finished 3 for 4 with three runs, Jackson was 3 for 5 with two RBIs, Gipe was 1 for 2 with three RBIs, Walker was 2 for 4 with two RBIs, and Bess was 0 for 0, walking twice, getting hit by a pitch and scoring three runs.
Newton hosts Houston Friday, then travels to Athletes in Action Field Monday to face Fayetteville-Perry.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.