By Josh Brown
CENTERVILLE — To say Newton’s season didn’t end the way the team would’ve liked is putting it lightly.
But even all of the mistakes that helped Triad put together a 12-run inning — or the constant rain Friday’s game was played in — couldn’t put a damper the season the Indians had.
After winning its third consecutive sectional championship, the Newton baseball team ran into a state contender in the Cardinals in Friday’s Division IV district final at Centerville, and Triad used a 12-run third inning to put away a 15-0 victory in five innings.
“That game wasn’t indicative of who we are as a team,” Newton coach Nathan Kopp said. “But you’ve got to give Triad the credit. They swung the bats and made all the plays. And we just picked a bad day to kick some balls around that we normally would field and walk a few people.
“We went 19-10 this year. We also went 21-7 and 18-9, so in the last three years, our three seniors (Andrew Dilts, Wade Ferrell and Bryan Delcamp) won 58 games. That’s pretty impressive, and I’m proud of all of our guys.”
But Triad, which advanced to play either Tri-County North or Miami Valley Christian Academy in Thursday’s regional semifinal, was simply in control from start to finish.
Wade Ferrell reached on a one-out error on a dropped liner by the Triad second baseman but was picked off trying to steal second, then Rhett Gipe drew a two-out walk before Triad’s Trent McIntyre got a strikeout to end the inning. Newton starter Nash Lavy got into trouble in the bottom of the first but found a way out of it, giving up two hits and a walk to load the bases but forcing a flyout to right to end the inning.
McIntyre walked another Newton batter in the second but struck out the side, then the Cardinals finally struck. Isaiah Bruce led off with a single, then Jacob Greve hit an RBI double over the left fielder’s head. An error at short put runners on the corners and, after a stolen base, Dalton Holycross drove both runners in with a single to right to make it 3-0 after two.
The Indians threatened in the top of the third thanks to two more walks, but a pair of flyouts and McIntyre’s sixth strikeout of the game put an end to that — and then the wheels fell completely off for Newton.
The bottom of the third began innocently enough, with a leadoff single, a groundout back to the pitcher and then an error to put two runners on. But a walk loaded the bases, Holycross followed with an RBI single … and then three of the next four batters drew walks that forced in runs, with the fourth batter being a run-scoring error that made it an 8-0 game. The Indians made the move to their third pitcher of the afternoon, and Briley Harlan promptly drove a ball the other way over the right fielder’s head for a three-run triple.
That wasn’t the end of it, though. An error brought in Harlan, then Greve singled before a popout to the first baseman finally put the second out on the board. But another walk loaded the bases again, and Shane Ford emptied them with another bases-clearing triple past a diving left fielder — and by the time it was all said and done, the Cardinals had scored 12 runs on only five hits, four errors and five walks, second a grand total of 16 batters to the plate.
“It was just a bad inning,” Kopp said. “They hit the ball hard, and we had too many errors and couldn’t find the strike zone.”
McIntyre walked Charlie Walker for the second time in the game with two outs in the fourth, and Walker advanced to second on an errant pickoff attempt before being stranded on third. And then McIntyre pitched a one-two-three fifth to end the game.
McIntyre allowed no hits, walked five and struck out nine in the five-inning shutout.
And while it was Kopp’s last game coaching the Indians — he’s accepted the athletic director position at Xenia High School after the season ends — he leaves behind a program that made giant leaps forward during his time at Newton, and one that seems poised to keep that momentum going.
“I hadn’t even thought about that honestly. But who knows? If Jordan and Greg (Kopp, the assistant coaches) get to stick around next year, I’m sure I’ll stick my head in the dugout now and then if I’m allowed. But the program has made some big steps, and I feel like the kids will be able to keep it moving forward.
“It’s disappointing to go out like this, but that’s a team with a realistic chance at making it to the state tournament. I was proud of the kids’ effort. And in team sports, it’s about winning, sure. But it’s also about the experiences you have and bonding, and this group has had a lot of great experiences this season. I’m really proud of them.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.