Jul. 18—SOLON — Newton's baseball team held strong for five innings against Class 3A No. 7 Solon on Friday during the opening round of the 3A Substate 5 tournament.
The top-seeded Spartans were too good to hold down though and a five-run sixth inning pushed the hosts to an 8-1 postseason victory at Spartan Field inside Solon Recreation and Nature Area.
"It was a game for a while," Newton baseball coach Brad Kahler said. "A team like that, you feel like they will have their inning. And they did. But we played well. We didn't have very many errors. We made some plays in the field."
The Cardinals scored first in the game, but Solon took the lead for good in the bottom of the first inning. It was a 3-1 game through five before Solon batted around in the sixth and pulled away for good.
Newton went from winning just one game in 2020 to claiming nine wins this summer in Kahler's first season. And the entire starting lineup that was on the field against Solon is eligible to return next summer.
"I'm pretty happy. It was a fun season," Kahler said. "I didn't have many goals coming into this first year. I just wanted to play the game the right way. I think we only got 10-run ruled twice.
"I feel like we are doing the right things. We just have to be a little better hitters. We have everyone coming back. But that also doesn't mean we are going to win 18 games. It doesn't work like that. We have to put in the same kind of work. The sky is the limit though."
The Cardinals (9-20) struck first in the opening inning. Kacey Sommars reached on a dropped third strike with one out in the top of the first.
With two outs, Kael Swarts and Eli Stewart collected back-to-back hits to make it 1-0. Stewart's hit was an RBI single that plated Sommars, but the Cardinals stranded two in the inning and left five on base in the game.
Unfortunately for Newton, it would get just one more hit the rest of the way against Solon sophomore Blake Timmons.
Timmons (5-2) allowed one unearned run and struck out six while walking two in six innings of work.
"We only got three hits, but I felt like we hit the ball hard," Kahler said. "We put the ball in play. We didn't have a lot of fly outs. They also made some plays. Their first basemen picked everything."
The second inning started with a Brody Bauer single and Tade Vanderlaan reached on an error after he laid down a sacrifice bunt.
The inning stalled though when Bauer was picked off second base.
Trailing 3-1, the Cardinals tried to trim their deficit with a squeeze play in the third. Sommars led off the frame with a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch.
He took third on a ground out but was thrown out at home trying to time Timmons' pitch to home plate.
"We tried to squeeze. It's frustrating. But it's something you have to work through," Kahler said. "I was just hoping we could get that run in to make it 3-2. He's just trying to be aggressive. It happens. The play was still close."
Timmons put the Cardinals down in order in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings.
In the sixth, Swarts walked and Stewart reached on an error to put two on base with two outs. But a pop out to first base ended the threat.
Turner Williams (1-5) started on the mound and pitched well but took the loss. He threw five innings and was pulled after reaching his pitch-count limit.
Williams allowed three runs — two earned — on five hits with six strikeouts and five walks.
The sophomore pitcher got the first two outs before allowing a base runner in the first four innings but only got the third out without damage in the final two.
In the first, Williams struck out the first two batters he faced, but Solon scored twice after drawing three consecutive walks before a two-run single by Carson Shive.
In the second, the Spartans (28-11) scored an unearned run after Timmons reached with two outs after a catcher's interference was called by the homeplate umpire. Freshman Brett White drove in Timmons with an RBI triple.
White later had a two-run double in the five-run sixth and currently has 53 RBIs this season.
Braydon Chance pitched the sixth for Newton. He allowed five earned runs on four hits with two walks and one hit batter.
"They are tough outs. They are really good hitters," Kahler said. "Some of (Turner) not getting the third out was us pitching to the scouting report and being careful with a few guys who we thought could be a problem."
Notes: Williams was on a pitch count this season after having Tommy John surgery in the offseason. He threw around 90 pitches on Friday. "It will be nice to have him for 20 more pitches each outing next year," Kahler said. ... Solon faces Carlisle (16-19) in the 3A Substate 5 semifinals at 7 p.m. on Monday in Solon. The other Substate 5 semifinal pits No. 4 and second-seeded Cedar Rapids Xavier against sixth-seeded Bondurant-Farrar at Mount Mercy University. The Blue Jays eliminated Pella, 2-1, on Friday.