The past two years for Newman High School’s baseball team has ended with the Greenies losing one-run games in first-round matchups that ended up going extra innings.
Allen Dennis wasn’t going to let that happen again.
Dennis’ complete-game effort helped guide No. 13 Newman (17-7) to a 4-3 win over No. 20 Episcopal-Baton Rouge at Audubon Park’s Avenger Field on Thursday night.
With the win, the Greenies advance to the second round of the Class 2A playoffs and will play the winner of No. 4 Kinder- No. 29 Bunkie game.
“I wasn’t about to come out of the game,” Dennis said, referring to the possibility the team may change pitchers heading into the seventh inning. “We’ve lost some one-run games the past few seasons, and we just wanted to make sure that every run counted and they had to work for every run.”
The Knights (15-11) tried to bunt home the game-tying run in the seventh inning, but the runner was thrown out at home. Dennis proceeded to get the final batter to ground out, clinching the victory for Newman.
The junior threw all seven innings and allowed five hits and three runs. He struck out three, walked one and hit another batter. The Knights didn’t get more than one hit in any inning after the first.
“Allen has been our rock all season,” Newman coach Trey Guillot said. “We had some great plays by our guys in the field, and we grinded to the end.”
After falling behind early, the Greenies utilized some savvy base running in the third inning to get themselves back in the game.
Walt Marcus — who has honored before the game as Newman’s only senior this year — gave the Greenies their first RBI hit of the game with a one-run double to deep center field, cutting their deficit to 3-2.
Victor Messa stepped up next and grounded a pitch to third base, but the Newman second baseman beat the throw to first, allowing another runner to cross the plate. As Episcopal was making the throw to first, Marcus rounded third base and came storming home and beat the throw, giving Newman its first lead of the night.
They went into the fourth inning with a 4-3 lead.
“We’re doing this for him this season; he’s our only senior,” Guillot said of Marcus, who went 2-for-2 at the plate with an RBI, a run scored and a walk. “We would love to get 20-25 hits every game, but we had to grind out runs today and our guys did a great job just staying in the game.”
The Knights put Newman in an early hole, piecing together a three-run first inning to open Thursday’s game.
Nick Patty got the scoring started for the Knights with a 3-2 RBI single to right field that gave Episcopal its first run.
The Knights followed Patty’s RBI hit with an RBI single by Matthew Distefano and an RBI groundout by Chris Thibodaux, stretching the Episcopal lead to 3-0 before Newman could escape the inning.
“It would’ve been very easy for us to lay down after falling in that 3-0 hole,” Guillot said. “Our guys just kept their heads in the game and slowly chipped away at the lead. It shows how badly our guys really wanted it tonight.”
The Knights finished their season 15-11.