HILLSBORO — The Newton Rebels allowed one comeback by the Wichita Sluggers Monday night in the Sunflower Collegiate League opener at Tabor College, but that was all in a 9-5 Rebels win.
Of the 11 different hitters the Rebels sent to the plate, nine posted at least one hit. Newton improves to 6-1 overall.
Friends University sophomore Luke Royale went four for five in the leadoff spot, scoring two runs and adding a walk.
“The results showed I had a good day,” Royale said. “My approach was just to get on base and let my teammates get me in. That’s been the plan all year. As long as I can get on as a leadoff, they’ll score me and that’s a good start. We’re jelling as a team. We haven’t done anything different. We’re coming together with that championship mind set to put nine innings together.”
A second-year player for the Rebels, Royale spent his freshman year at Barton Community College before transferring to Friends, where he .234 in 34 games with 11 RBIs.
“I didn’t play much until the last half of the spring,” Royale said. “I got hot in the last half of the season. I just did my job there. I don’t want to change my approach for the summer. I just want to be the best teammate I can be as a leadoff and make the routine plays as a center fielder.”
“The big thing today was every time they scored, we answered back,” Newton manager Brett Clark said. “We answered with one, two, three. That’s what you have to do. Whenever a team scores a run, you have to answer back. Every game’s important whether it’s divisional or non-divisional. We haven’t played a complete game yet from top to bottom. I’d rather not play a complete game yet. We can wait until crunch time. We only had one or two errors, and that’s heading in the right direction. Our pitchers did a good job and we had good situational hitting.”
Newton used four pitchers. Starter Armando Romero struck out eight in 4.2 innings for a no decision. Zach Gillig followed for the win.
Blake Freemman went two for two hitting.
Gage Axline went three for three to lead the Sluggers, 0-2. Mason Hartman, Adam Thies and Ryan Lumpkin added two hits each.
Wichita starter Drake Girard took the loss. Cameron Hall struck out six for the Sluggers in two innings.
A single and error in the top of the first inning set up a sacrifice fly for Newton’s Corbin Lill. Royale opened the third inning with a double, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on an Enzo Bonventre ground out.
A Newton error in the fourth inning led to a Sluggers run.
With two outs in the top of the fifth, Terrell Huggins singled, stole second and scored on a Bonventre single.
The Sluggers put runners on second and third base with no outs in the bottom of the fifth. Romero struck out the next three batters but the third strikeout came on a wild pitch that allowed a run to score. After a pitching change, another wild pitch tied the score.
With runners at first and third base and one out in the top of the sixth, Cade Gonzales hit a two-run triple. Gonzales scored on an Isiah Perez single.
Blake Freeman hit a two-out RBI single in the top of the seventh. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Wichita’s Lumpkin sent a shot over the left field fence for a two-run home run.
Newton loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the eighth on three walks. Huggins followed with a walk to drive in a run. After a strikeout, Lill walked to drive in a run.
The Sluggers opened the bottom of the ninth with an infield single and a walk. Zach Bravo then struck out the side to end the game.
Newton and Wichita meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Klein-Scott Field for the Rebels’ home opener.
“Hopefully, that adds a little more fire to our guys to win at home,” Clark said.
E — Thies, Perez, Hall. DP — Newton 2. LOB — New. 12, Wic. 10. 2B — Royale, McClain. 3B — Freeman, Gonzales. HR — Lumpkin. SB — Lopez, Huggins, Thies. Sac. Bunt — Paris. Sac. Fly — Lill.
DeFlippo faced two batters in the eighth inning.
WP — Girard, Romero, Gillig 2, Conrad, Hall. HBP — Freeman 2 (Girard 2). Time — 2:59.