Newberry wins first regular season South Atlantic championship

HARROGATE, Tenn. – Newberry claimed its first ever South Atlantic Conference regular season Championship, topping Lincoln Memorial 8-0 Friday night in the second game of a double header.

Josh Bookbinder allowed one runner to advance past first base, needed the defense to turn only one double play, and set down the side in order on four occasions. All this was made more impressive by the fact that the game was delayed 52 minutes by lightning and torrential rain—after Bookbinder had already thrown an inning.

“To bounce back and have a freshman on the mound in a seven-inning game, said head coach Russell Triplett, “Bookbinder was unbelievable. Threw an inning, had a long delay, and then came back and had energy throughout.

“He’s a competitor. I was a little worried about the delay, but he was locked in and ready to go. He wants to throw anytime. For a freshman to do what he’s done shows what kind of composure he has, his makeup, his toughness. He certainly showed that against a really good hitting team.”

While the Railsplitters (32-14, 18-5 SAC) struggled to find their offense against Bookbinder, Newberry’s (37-12, 20-3 SAC) bats heated up in the second inning and stayed warm throughout.

Seven of Newberry’s eight runs came with two outs, including all six runs through the first four frames. In the second, it was Tony Matos’s two-out single up the middle and Peyton Spangler’s walk that set the table for Ian Clements’ two-run double.

In the third, Tyler Ackard and Colin Allman drew back-to-back walks with two outs before Luke Orr and Matos hit consecutive singles. In the fourth, Ackard’s two-out, two-strike single scored Clements and Dalton Lansdowne.

Overall, Newberry hit .417 (5-for-12) and had six RBI with two outs. The Wolves’ plate approach was critical with the all-turf playing surface at Lamar Hennon Field—the slick conditions and lack of dirt on the infield largely neutralized Newberry’s propensity to steal bases and sacrifice runners over.

Orr and Matos led the Wolves with two hits apiece, while Clements contributed three RBI. Seven Wolves scored at least a run.

Needing a series sweep to win the SAC title by a game over Newberry, the Railsplitters took a 5-2 decision in Game One. Danton Hyman was spectacular in the first game, going 3-for-3 with a walk and a run scored at the plate while recording six putouts in center, including a diving catch to end the sixth. Lansdowne also had a pair of hits in the first contest.

Newberry was down 5-0 heading into the ninth inning before the top of the order broke through against Ethan Elliot. A single by Hyman followed by a Zane Tarrance double started the rally before Tyler White’s sacrifice fly brought home the first run of the game.

Colin Allman roped a double deep into the gap in left center to drive in Tarrance and spell the end of the day for Elliot, but a pair of flyouts ended the game and gave Lincoln Memorial’s Devin Morris his seventh save of the season.

The Railsplitters scored single runs in the second and third innings before breaking through in the fifth with three runs on five hits. Ryan Harbin entered with the bases loaded and nobody out but got a called third strike to begin the frame. He escaped further damage with a fielder’s choice to third base and a popup to short to keep the deficit to five runs.

The Wolves and Railsplitters will conclude the season series with a single game Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Newberry will then enter the 2019 Pilot/Flying J SAC Baseball Championship as the No. 1 seed, kicking off tournament play at noon on Friday, April 26 at Smokies Stadium in Kodak, Tennessee.

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