Updated: May 24
NILES - Eight batters, eight home runs.
And the 2021 season of New Carlisle Newts wiffleball was off and running.
With help from a generous wind out of the southwest, the Newts bats started hot, powering New Carlisle (2-1) to an Opening Day series victory over the Great Lakes Godfathers: 29-20, 10-13, 33-5.
The first inning onslaught put aside any worries that a lack of Spring Training scrimmages would dampen the Newts offensive output. Garrett Curless got the scoring started with a moonshot blast to centerfield off Godfathers pitcher Matador Smith. The rest of the lineup: Scott Soos, Noah Shail, Garrett Ruiz, Koby Keck, and Matt Soos followed suit. Curless and Scott Soos took another turn before Smith sat the next three batters down in order.
While the offense looked to be in midseason form, the defense took some time to knock off the cobwebs. Curless was able to keep leadoff hitter Andy Sieradzki in the yard, but his floating liner dropped in between three Newts fielders. The next batter, Scott Bartley, made it hurt with a two-run blast, and the back and forth slugfest was on.
Great Lakes would eventually tied the game at 10 in the second inning, but Curless was able to use the run support to navigate the wind and keep the Godfathers at arm's length the rest of the way. Despite giving up 20 runs, the southpaw fanned two batters in a complete game effort.
Shail announced his presence early in game one. The 2015 ORWBL MVP, who has seen limited action over the last five seasons, blasted six homers and drove in 10 runs.
Curless, Keck, and Matt Soos hit four home runs each, while Garrett Ruiz and Scott Soos had two apiece.
After picking up the game one win, Curless took the ball to start the second game and found trouble early. After the Newts put up three in the top half, Chaz Boyd led off the bottom of the first with a solo shot. Boyd was six for six as the fifth hitter in the first game, leading Great Lakes manager Mark Haase to vault Boyd to the leadoff spot.
With Sieradzki aboard again, Bartley hit another two-run dinger to tie the game at three. Nick Fritz then flew out to center and Curless was one out away from escaping major damage in the first.
But the Godfathers took their own homers-only trip around the lineup with six consecutive bombs. Curless was lifted after the first three for Shail, who gave up another three before retiring the side.
The Newts chipped away at the deficit right away, with Scott Soos leading off the third with a line drive homer to center. Shail, Ruiz, and Keck followed to make it four straight and the Newts were within two.
In the fourth, Matt Soos tied the game at 10 with a two-run homer that scored Keck.
Haase homered in the bottom half of the fourth for Great Lakes to break the tie, while Fritz and John Premetz added insurance in the fifth to make it 13-10. New Carlisle went scoreless over the final three innings to drop their first of the year.
The Newts left no doubt in the rubber match, putting up a crooked number in all six frames. New Carlisle raced out to a 20-2 lead after three innings, with the defense locked in behind Shail.
Shail was nine of 11 at the plate with another six home runs, giving him 13 for the series. His .708 batting average leads the team through three games.
Every Newt in the lineup blasted multiple home runs, with Scott Soos adding five, Curless and Matt Soos each hitting four, and Garrett Ruiz tacking on three. Curless delivered the knock out blow in the third with a grand slam.
Keck took the mound to work a perfect sixth to slam the door on the series.
Action in ORWBL will be paused this weekend in honor of Mother's Day. New Carlisle will be back on the road again on Sunday, May 16 with a trip to Mishawaka to face the Meatspins (0-3).