PLEASANT HILL — It may not have been the ending the Newton baseball team was looking for Monday at Russia High School in a D-IV district semifinal.
But, Newton coach Jordan Kopp couldn’t have been prouder of his squad after they rallied from a 4-0 deficit before losing 6-5.
Newton finishes the second at 20-9, while Russia improves to 21-6 and advances to a D-IV district title game Wednesday.
“The word proud kept coming up after the game when we talked to the kids,” Kopp said. “How proud we were of the way they played today. How proud we were of the way they represented the school and the community.
The game ended with a two-out, two run walk-off double in the seventh inning by Russia’s Brayden Monnin.
Xavier Phlipot and Zane Shappie had walked with one out and Braylon Cordonnier had moved them to second and third on a fielder’s choice.
“One hit or one game is not going to define our season,” Kopp said. “We had another 20-win season. We had really good season.”
While Russia didn’t hit the ball hard, they scored single runs in the first, second, fourth and fifth to go up 4-0.
In the first, Phlipot singled, and would come around to score when Monnin reached on an error.
In the second, the Raiders scored without a hit.
Felix Francis walked, stole second and moved to third on Jude Counts sacrifice bunt.
He would score on Ross Fiessinger’s fielder’s choice.
In the fourth, Monnin singled and would score on Francis’ single and in the fifth.
In the fifth, Phlipot singled and Vince Borchers would run for him. On a pickoff throw to first base, Borchers stole home to make it 4-0.
“You know when you play Russia, you are going to see small-ball at some point,” Kopp said. “Our goal was to avoid a big inning and we did that.”
The game did a reversal in the sixth inning.
Newton had only one hit at that point, before picking up five hits and scoring five runs to score on front.
Pinch-hitter Jyler VanCulin reached on an error to start the inning and Aiden Kelley re-entered to run.
Carson Knupp doubled and after a error on the throw back in, Kelley scored and Knupp went to third.
Rhett Koffer was hit by a pitch and with two out, Brady Downing reached on an error, scoring a run.
Austin Tippie, Will Bowser and Ridge Gray followed with RBI singles to give Newton the lead.
“We didn’t have many hits going into that inning, then we strung a bunch of hits together,” Kopp said. “But, that is baseball.”
But, Russia would rally in the seventh.
Knupp pitched a six-hitter for Newton, striking out three, walking three and hitting a batter.
Phlipot and Cooper Francis combined on a six-hitter for Russia, striking out five, walking one and hitting a batter.
It was the final game for Knupp, Hudson Montgomery and Kelly.
“We have three seniors and they all contributed,” Kopp said. “Carson Knupp pitched well, Hudson Montgomery made a couple plays out at shortstop and Aiden Kelley scored out first run. They were great all season and hopefully, the other guys will learn from what the seniors did all season. We will get back after it next season.”
After a loss that will not define the Indians season or success the program has had.
Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at [email protected]