Updated: May 29
NEW CARLISLE - There was not a cloud in the sky over Migley Field on Sunday afternoon, as the New Carlisle Newts (2-7) opened up the friendly confines for the 17th season of wiffleball at the corner of Bray and Dunn.
In addition to serving up burgers and hot dogs to their visitors after the games, the Newts were generous hosts to the Granger Panthers (6-3) on the field as well. The defending National League champions took two of three in the series, 9-4, 2-3 (F/9), 5-3.
New Carlisle's defense gifted the Panthers seven runs in the first inning. A cluster in the outfield resulted in a disastrous start for Aidan Cotter on mound. The frame was punctuated by back-to-back home runs by Alex Zarazee and Seth Campbell.
The Newts really never threatened Granger in the ballgame with the lone bright spot coming in the sixth. New Carlisle put up three runs on reigning National Closer of the Year Brett Shepard, including a two-run homer by Cotter, but it was far too little, too late.
Garrett Curless took over on the mound for New Carlisle in the second game, but the offensive momentum from torching the Rolaids Relief Man didn't exactly carry over. Curless held Granger's lineup in check, but made two mistakes - an Austin Williams homer in the third and another dinger by Zarazee in the sixth.
Trailing 2-0, the Newts found life again in their last chance. Matt Soos led off the bottom of the sixth with a liner into the left field bleachers, and Curless tied it up two batters later to force extras.
The first two extra innings went scoreless, and the hungry crowd began wondering if another 27-inning debacle was on the way. In the bottom of the ninth, JP Kehoe ended that speculation with a walk-off bomb to give the Newts their first home-opener win since 2020.
The teams traded runs in the first inning of the rubber match, with Zarazee homering for the third straight game. Kehoe would plate Curless on a ground out to answer, and the game remained tied until the third when bad things happened again.
Griffin Smith grabbed the lead for Granger with a three-run homer to make it 4-1. Newt-killer Zarazee followed that up with a solo shot, giving the Panthers their final tally.
New Carlisle gave it a solid comeback effort. Sean Touhey checked in with a homer down the leftfield line in the fourth, and Curless led off the sixth with a homer to cut the deficit to two. The Newts continued to rally, but ultimately fell short with the tying run at the plate.
The 12-game homestand continues next Sunday, May 28 when the Newts host the Willow Creek Warpigs (0-9) at Migley Field. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20pm ET.