Early on, Newberry pitcher Mason Tomchak was dominant against the state’s No. 2 ranked team in Class 1A.
Tomchak had a perfect game entering the sixth inning, but Lafayette (Mayo) took advantage of three errors and added some timely hitting in a 5-1 win against the defending 1A state champions to split the two-game series.
“He was on cruise control through five innings and then a guy lays a bunt down, the second baseman is late to first, we air-mailed it to right and the flood gates kind of opened up from there and you saw the youth in the team right there,” said Newberry coach Mike Spina. “That kind of took the breath out of them.”
The throwing error by Tomchak allowed Austin Herron, who had singled to start the inning, to score the Hornets’ first run to tie the game at 1-1.
After an intentional walk to USF commit Dawson Mock to put two on base, Tomchak struck out the next batter and it appeared Newberry might get out of it.
However, Lafayette pitcher Jackson Ward had the game-winning RBI single and advanced all the way to third on an error in left field allowing two runs to score on the play to make it 3-1.
Then Karlos Murphy singled in courtesy runner Kevin Posada for a 4-1 lead.
“They’re a well-coached team,’ Spina said. “They made some adjustments. They switched their lineup a little bit tonight. It’s baseball, anything can happen.”
Offensively, the Panthers (12-6) struggled, finishing with just three hits.
“We’re young,” said Newberry coach Mike Spina. “We’re not the same nine seniors we had last year where we’re going to swing it like we did last year. We had quality at-bats, we just didn’t get those timely hits.”
Jackson McDavid led Newberry at the plate going 2-for-3 with a double, while Josiah Hagland drove in the only run on a ground out in the second.
Ward, who improved to 8-0, allowed just one unearned run with only one walk and eight strikeouts.
Newberry will host Dunnellon at 7 p.m. on Wednesday for Senior Night, while Lafayette (15-2) will host Trenton on Thursday.
The Panthers will be the No. 1 seed in next week’s Class 1A-District 7 tournament at Chiefland.
“We’re excited for next week,” Spina said. “This loss tonight wasn’t great, but we’ve got Dunnellon coming in, who’s in 4A and a very, very good team. We’ll probably see one of their good arms. That’s what we want to see going into next week.”