AUGUSTA — The Newton Senior Knights punched its ticket to the Class AAA state tournament rather forcefully Friday, stopping Andover Central 12-2 in the championship game of the Zone 5 tournament.
The game was called after eight innings on the 10-run rule.
Newton jumped to a 4-2 lead after three innings, but put the game away with three runs in the fourth and five runs in the eighth.
Baxter Schmidt went three for four hitting for Newton. Jesse Jerde went three for five. Evan Thomas went two for three. Kevin Ronen went two for four. Kyle Preston and Jerde each had a two-run home run.
“We were coming in pretty optimistic, pretty confident, because Andover had to play two games they had to play us,” Newton manager Mark George said. “Our guys were pretty patient at the plate. We didn’t go out and chase too much. We made their guys throw strikes. The guys hit the ball pretty well. Jesse Jerde had a pretty good day. Kyle Preston had a pretty good day. Kevin Ronen and Evan Thomas had good days at the plate. We pretty much manufactured runs. We exploded at the end. All through the game, we had good approaches. I thought we drove the ball well.”
Nathan Briar went seven innings for the win. Preston finished the game.
“Nathan had a good day pitching,” George said. “He had been in a rut. He gave up a couple walks and the defense wasn’t behind him in one innings. We had one bad inning, but from there on, we cruised.”
Newton is 19-11 and opens play in the state tournament Wednesday against host Pittsburg at Jaycee Park in the second game of the 5 p.m. session (approximately an 8 p.m. start).
“All-in-all, I’m really proud of the way the guys approached the tournament,” George said. “We’re really excited to be going to state. It’s been a while since we’ve been. They’ve worked hard to be in this position. They are going in with a lot of swagger. ... It should be a good time.”
And.C.    002    000    00    —2    5    4
Newton    121    300    05    —12    13    2
Page (L), Blake 4 and Shannon; Briar (W), Preston 8 and Jerde. HR — N: Preston, Jerde.