Pitching comes through as Senior Knights sweep

Mark Schnabel
The Kansan
Newton Senior Knight Ian Akers makes a circus catch during play Wednesday against Emporia. Newton hosts Hutchinson Wednesday.

With the struggles the Newton Post 2 Senior Knights American Legion baseball team has had this season, the team was able to turn things around Wednesday to post a sweep against Emporia at Klein-Scott Field.

Newton won the first game 10-2 in five innings on the eight-run rule. The Knights won a pitcher’s duel in the second game 4-2.

Newton Senior Knight Griff Davis threw a complete-game win Wednesday against Emporia. Newton won both games to get a doubleheader sweep for the first time this season.

In the second game, Newton pitcher Joe Slechta went 5.1 innings for the win, allowing two runs on seven hits with a walk and four strikeouts. Andrew Barron pitched the last five outs for the save, striking out three.

“Our pitchers did a good job of throwing strikes, especially first-pitch strikes,” Newton manager Evan Gilbert said. “Griffin (Davis) set the tone with game one. Joe did a real nice job of commanding two pitches for strikes. Andrew Barron came in and he closed the door. He threw the last two innings. He came in and did a nice job of that. We dropped three games this weekend, but did a nice job of bouncing back. The dugout was focused, the energy increased. They acted like they wanted to be here and enjoyed themselves. We still have a lot of things we need to get better at, but we are headed in the right direction.”

Newton Knights Trev Golubski, left, and Cade Valdez after making a play Wednesday against Emporia.

“I was throwing a lot of fastballs,” Barron said. “A couple were high. I got a guy to chase on a first-pitch curveball that really helped. I was just in a tough situation thinking I had to throw strikes here. … Sweeps are always fun with this team. It just gets our energy going. We played better. Our coach uses the analogy of once the train gets moving, it’s hard to stop. That’s what happened here.”

Emporia pitcher Aaron Ross took the loss, allowing four runs on three hits with seven walks and two strikeouts. Vance Kinsey pitched the sixth inning.

Newton opened the second game with a pair of runs in the second inning. With bases loaded and one out, Luke Hirsh grounded into a fielder’s choice to drive in a run. Newton added a run on a delayed double steal.

Emporia tied the game in the top of the third when Cade Kohlmeier drove a ball over the left-field fence.

Newton regained the lead in the bottom of the third when Ian Akers tripled and came home on a Trev Golubski ground out. With two outs in the fourth inning, Hirsh doubled to drive in a run.

Emporia had runners at second and third with one out in the top of the sixth inning, but Barron struck out the next two batters in six total pitches. Emporia went in order in the seventh with Kohlmeier striking out looking to end the game.

Newton Senior Knight Andrew Barron reaches base on an error during play Wednesday against Emporia.

Akers went two for two hitting for Newton. Logan Thomas and Bobby Trujillo each went two for three for Emporia.

“I was aware of what (Kohlmeier) had done,” Barron said. “I was trying not to throw him inside. Those were the ones he was taking far. I was trying to get him with a high fastball, but he didn’t chase. We had a really good battle at the end of the at bat. He took what he thought was a ball that struck him out the same way Joe did (in Kohlmeier’s previous at bat).”

In the first game, Newton jumped out 4-2, scoring in every inning but the third. Emporia scored a pair of runs in the third inning on a two-run Kinsey single.

Newton Senior Knight Ryan Ruggerio makes contact with a pitch during play Wednesday against Emporia.

Newton put the game away with six runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Akers drove in two runs for the Knights. Ryan Ruggerio had two hits with an RBI.

Griff Davis went the distance for the win, allowing two runs on two hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Hunter Redeker took the loss for Emporia, allowing three earned runs on four hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Quinn Dold finished the game for Emporia.

Emporia fell to 4-12. Newton improves to 4-7, avenging a loss to Emporia in the Emporia tournament.

Newton’s game scheduled for Thursday against Ottawa was canceled. Newton hosts Hutchinson Wednesday.

“Hopefully, we can keep this winning streak going,” Gilbert said.

First game

Emporia;002;00;—;2;2;6

Newton;210;16;—;10;5;1

Redeker (L), Dold 5 and Kohlmeier; Davis (W) and Boston. Time — 1:30.

Second game

Emporia;002;000;0;—;2;7;1

Newton;021;100;x;–;4;3;0

Ross (L), Kinsey 6 and Trujillo; Slechta (W), Barron (S) 6 and Ruggerio. HR — E: Kohlmeier. Time — 1:38.

Mark Schnabel can be reached at mschnabel@thekansan.com