By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
PLEASANT HILL — The Newton softball team pulled away with some longball.
The Indian baseball team came out on top in a back-and-forth smallball battle.
In the end, Newton came away with a sweep of Cross County Conference rival Miami East at home Thursday with both teams maintaining possession of the league’s top spot as softball closed out a 13-1 win over the Vikings and baseball held on in the seventh for a nail-biting 8-7 win.
Freshman Colin Tackett did the job on the mound for six innings and senior Nate Zielinski closed it out in the seventh with the potential go-ahead runs on base as the Newton baseball team survived a challenge from visiting Miami East for an 8-7 win.
Tackett gave up six runs — only one earned, as Miami East cashed in on five Newton errors — on seven hits and one walk while striking out four.
“Colin isn’t really a strike-em-out kind of guy,” Newton coach Jordan Kopp said of his starting pitcher. “He’s a lefty and he’s crafty and he throws strikes. In two starts now, he’s only walked one guy, and he gave up only one earned run.
“Give Miami East credit. Anytime you play a team coached by Dean Denlinger, you know they’re going to be well coached and will execute. They put pressure on us, we didn’t make the plays a couple times and it hurt.”
The game was back and forth the whole way, with Newton (7-0, 4-0 CCC) taking a 2-1 lead after the first inning. Miami East (3-4, 3-1 CCC) answered with three in the top of the fourth, but Newton scored three in the bottom of the inning to keep pace. The Vikings then plated a pair in the top of the fifth to take a 6-5 lead, but the Indians answered with three in the bottom of the inning to go up by two at 8-6.
Ross Ferrell came on in relief of Tackett to begin the sixth, walking two and giving up one hit and only recording one out, then Nielinski entered to finish things off, giving up only one hit. With the lead down to one run and runners on second and third, third baseman Mitchell Montgomery snared a hard-hit line drive that likely would have put the Vikings ahead to end the game.
“Nate, he’s been struggling with injuries, but he came in and battled,” Kopp said. “He came in with the bases loaded in the seventh, and he didn’t back down from the situation at all.”
Offensively, Ryan Mollette was 3 for 4 with a triple, two RBIs and two runs scored and Zielinski was 2 for 4 with two RBIs to lead the Indians. Alex Koon was 3 for 4 with an RBI and Montgomery and Cameron Calldwell each drove in a run, with Calldwell also hitting a double.
“Overall, we were extremely excited to come away with a win in this one,” Kopp said. “Nate and Ryan led the charge offensively. We want our seniors to lead us, and they did today. Defensively, we’ve still got some work to do.
“This was a big league win for us, too. That makes us 4-0 with two big league games coming up next week, and East came into this game 3-0 in the league, so this keeps us at the top.”
Ian Gengler, who started for the Vikings, pitched all six innings, giving up eight runs — only three earned, as the Vikings committed four errors themselves — on 11 hits and a walk while striking out seven.
Austin Francis was 3 for 3 with two runs scored, Gengler, Hunter Gross, Gage Butz and Garrett Lemaster each had an RBI and Alex Hayes doubled.
After traveling to Wright State to face Versailles Friday, Miami East hosts West Carrollton Saturday, while Newton takes on Little Miami Saturday in a doubleheader.
The Newton softball team (6-1, 4-0 CCC) didn’t allow nearly as much drama Thursday, stringing together an eight-run third inning to help put away visiting Miami East (2-4, 1-3 CCC) 13-1 in five innings.
Brooke Deeter was 2 for 2 with a home run and two RBIs, Baily Chaney doubled and drove in two runs, Mallory Dunlevy had three RBIs, Marissa Deeter was 2 for 3 with an RBI and Addison Peters was 2 for 2 as the Indians outhit the Vikings 10-2 in the game.
Erin Norman got the win for Newton, allowing only two hits and walking one while striking out six.
Kyleigh Kirby and Cassidy Walker each had a hit for the Vikings, with Walker scoring the only run. Kirby took the loss on the mound, allowing 13 runs, 10 earned, on 10 hits and four walks while striking out two.
After hosting Versailles Friday, Miami East travels to Riverside for a doubleheader Saturday. Newton, meanwhile, hosts Greenon in a doubleheader Saturday.
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.