Newton head coach Jason Fulton really wanted to get Tuesday’s game in before any inclement weather hit and washed out the field, because of what was at stake.
The weather held up, no more than a misty drizzle every so often, and Newton clinched at least a share of the Little Illini Conference with a five-inning win, 11-1.
The Eagles completed a season-long turnaround with the victory, after a 3-17 record last year. The Eagles are guaranteed a winning record and a share of the LIC crown. A Cumberland loss this week would give Newton the outright title.
“The belief and the attitude change has been tremendous,” Fulton said. “They’ve finally said it’s our turn to get it done. The kids believed they could win.”
Fulton saw his offense start the game a little cold at the plate against Lawrenceville pitcher Tom Mahrenholz, but the Eagles “exploded” in the third inning.
Tim Weber led the inning off with a ground out, before the top of the Eagles’ batting order teed off.
Brock Mammoser smashed a two-run home run, after Nate Meinhart walked, to give the Eagles their first two runs of the game. Lawrenceville took a 1-0 lead in the top half of the inning.
Mammoser’s home run caused a nasty collision when Lawrenceville’s Brady Benson ran into the right-center field fence, chasing the deep fly ball. Benson left the game with a cut on his face.
Lucas Huston made it back-to-back homers with a solo shot to give Newton a 3-1 lead. Tanner Shull, Caleb Chesnut, Jacob Lidy, and Allen Taylor all later came around to score in the inning, during which 11 hitters came to the plate.
“We didn’t look too good the first two innings, at the plate, but finally we exploded,” Fulton said.
The Eagles added four runs in the fifth inning to close out the game. Mammoser hit a two-run single and Nick Reis drove in the final two runs of the game.
Mammoser went 2-for-3 with a single, home run, walk and four RBIs. Lidy, Taylor and Huston all fininshed with one RBI apiece.
Newton got a solid pitching performance from Shull, who threw a complete game. Shull gave up only two hits and finished with nine strikeouts.
“Tanner has been really sharp his past few outings and has really proven himself to be one of our top few pitchers, there’s no double about it,” Fulton said.
The Eagles (12-10, 9-2) host Neoga at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Alex McNamee can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or email@example.com.
Lawrenceville 001 00 1 2 3
Newton 007 04 11 5 0
WP - Shull (5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 9 K, 3 BB) LP - Mahrenholz (2 2-3 IP, 7 R, 4 H, 1 K, 2 BB)
Lawrenceville: Goodwin (2 1B, RBI), Winningham (2 BB, SB), Baxter (BB)
Newton: Meinhart (2 BB), Mammoser (1B, HR, 4 RBI, BB), Huston (HR, RBI), Shull (1B), Reis (2 BB, 2 RBI), Chesnut (R), Lidy (HBP, R, RBI), Taylor (1B, HBP, SB, 2 R, RBI), Weber (2 BB)