GRANGER- With the offense off to a sluggish start through the first three series of the year, the New Carlisle Newts (7-5) were hoping to get the bats going on Sunday against the first-place Granger Panthers (9-3).
Relatively speaking, they did.
In a rematch of last year's National League Championship Series, the Newts took two of three, 11-8, 12-4, and 5-6. Although not a gaudy number compared to some of the other scores around the league, the 28 runs scored were more than New Carlisle had mustered in the first nine games of the season.
It was a balanced attack throughout the day for the Newts, with Danny Hernandez leading the way going 8 for 14 with five home runs and seven RBI.
Matt Soos went 8 for 15 with four solo homers and also picked up the win on the mound in game one. Soos leads the team in hitting at the midway point of the season with a .483 average.
Scott Soos also hit four long balls and knocked in seven runs. The all-time ORWBL home run king looked to be back on track after a slow start in the brutal spring hitting conditions.
The elder Soos also got a win on the mound, holding the Panthers to just four runs in game two.
Both Soos brothers shut down Tony Koch, holding the 2017 American League MVP to just two hits for the entire series. Koch was a major acquisition for the Panthers in the offseason.
Jay Ryans and Randy Schuster each made their season debuts, making immediate impacts with four home runs a piece. Schuster and Ryans both played lock down defense. Ryans, known for his pitching, was not utilized on the mound at all for the entire series.
After winning the first two in the series, the Newts had an opportunity for a sweep and to move into a tie for first place in the National League standings. However, New Carlisle seem to run out of gas in the oppressive heat.
Trailing 6-3 heading into the sixth inning, Ryans and Hernandez both went yard to cut it to one. But it was too little, too late as the rally ended on a Scott Soos groundout.
New Carlisle was able to pick up one game in the standings on the Panthers and are currently tied for second place with the Twin Branch Billy Goats. The top two teams in the National League receive double byes in the postseason and avoid a one-game playoff.
The Newts now head into another big rematch from the 2017 Postseason, as they will travel to La Porte to face the Maple City Magic (9-3) for the first time since last year's ORWBL World Series. First pitch is slated for 1:00pm ET at Magic Park.