NEWARK — Holding a one-run lead heading to the seventh inning, visiting Earlville-Leland-Paw Paw was hoping to add an insurance run or two against Newark during Monday afternoon's Little Ten Conference game.
The Red Raiders did that and more, plating five runs on five of their 13 hits to cruise to an eventual 11-6 victory here at Newark High School.
Jared Pickert led E-L-PP with three hits and a pair of RBIs, while Porter Wesson, Brennan Sweeney, Justin Shannon and Tim McNally each had a pair of safeties. The hitting barrage helped back winning pitcher Keegan Johnson (5.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) and improved the Red Raiders to 11-7-1 overall and 9-2-1 in the LTC. Grant Campbell recorded the final five outs for the visitors to earn the save.
"We really hit the heck out of the ball, and we have stressed hitting the ball hard all season," said E-L-PP coach Bobby Stevens. "I tell the kids to just keep swinging hard and down on the ball, and with solid contact the hits will fall. We did a good job of hitting first-pitch fastballs today, but I was also happy with our two-strike approaches, especially in that key seventh inning.
"This is the time of the season with regionals right around the corner that you hope your team is hitting the ball well, and I think we are."
Newark (3-11, 3-9) was paced by leadoff man Jacob Slivka, who reached base five times including a trio of singles and a run batted in. Brett Myre, Connor Swanson and Ethan Jeffers had two RBIs apiece. Losing pitcher Corey Jacobson went 6 1/3 innings before reaching his pitch count and allowed eight hits while walking five and fanning five.
"We are a young team, and we made some mistakes today on the basepaths and in the outfield, and they came back to bite us," said Newark coach J.R. Veliz. "The positive thing I've seen though is the mistakes we have made this season, I haven't seen them happen again. We have taken a few lumps this year, but they are learning from them."
"(Corey) has been pitching well for us all season. He was hitting his spots and really mixing things up today. He had a lot of batters up there guessing, which as a pitcher you want."
The Red Raiders scored one in the first as Campbell singled, went to second on an error, to third on a wild pitch and scored on Wesson's base hit. They added three runs in the second as Johnson scored on a wild pitch before a sacrifice fly by Davis Sweeney and RBI groundout by Campbell to make it 4-0.
The Norsemen cut the lead in half in the third on Myre's two-run double over the left fielder's head, but E-L-PP got those runs back in the fifth on a RBI groundout from Tyler Bretsch and a run-scoring single off the bat of Jared Pickert, and it was 6-2.
Newark again sliced the lead to two in their half of the fifth as Jacob Slivka led off with his second hit of the game and later scored on Dylan Tuttle's fielder's choice. Jeffers followed with a double that scored Jacobson. The Norsemen then made it a 6-5 game in the sixth when Jacob Slivka's third hit scored Wyatt Snyder, chasing Johnson in favor of Campbell on the hill. Campbell worked out of any further damage in the frame to set up the Red Raiders' final at-bats.
"He struggled at the beginning of the year with the cold weather," Stevens said of Johnson. "He is a senior, a team leader and a guy that just doesn't get rattled. He was around the zone today and gave his defense a chance to make plays, which they did."
In the seventh, after a flyout and walk, Jacobson reached his pitch count and was replaced by Myre. Brennan Sweeney and Bretsch smacked back-to-back doubles before Jared Pickert's RBI hit. Johnson then walked before consecutive RBI two-baggers by Shannon and Tim McNally.
The hosts scored the day's final run in the bottom the seventh when Tuttle scored on an error.
Earlville-Leland-Paw Paw 11, Newark 6
E-L-PP (11) — Cambell ss/p 4-1-1-1, Wesson 2b/ss 2-2-2-1, B. Sweeney c 4-0-2-1, Imel cr 0-2-0-0, Bretsch 1b 4-1-1-2, Jar. Pickert 4-1-3-2, Johnson p/2b 1-2-0-0, Shannon dh 3-1-2-1, Eager rf 0-0-0-0, T. McNally 3b 4-1-2-0, D. Sweeney lf 3-0-0-1. Totals 29-11-13-9.
NEWARK (6) — Jac. Slivka ss 3-2-3-1, Myre 1b/p 4-0-2-2, Swanson cf 4-0-2-0, Jacobson p/3b 3-1-0-0, Tuttle c 3-1-0-1, Jeffers dh 4-0-2-1, Reibel 3b/1b 0-0-0-0, Wiesbrook lf 4-0-1-0, Jar. Slivka 2b 3-0-0-0, Snyder rf 2-2-0-0. Totals 30-6-10-5.
E-L-PP (11-7-1, 9-2-1) 130 020 5 — 11 13 2
Newark (3-11, 3-9) 002 021 1 — 6 10 3
LOB — E-L-PP 4, Newark 12. 2B — B. Sweeney 2,
Bretsch, Shannon, T. McNally, Myre, Jeffers. SB — B. Sweeney, Johnson, Jac.
Slivka, Swanson, Snyder. CS — Wesson, Jar. Pickert. SAC — Jaconson. SF — D.
E-L-PP ip r er h bb k
Johnson (W) 5.1 5 3 9 3 4
Campbell (S) 1.2 1 1 1 4 0
Jacobson (L) 6.1 7 5 7 5 5
Myre 0.2 4 3 4 1 0