MCC catcher defines heart of champion'
By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
May 10, 2004
For 15 innings on a sweltering Sunday afternoon, Meridian Community College catcher Ricky Newman suited up in body armor and squatted behind home plate in the Region XXIII championship games at Scaggs Field.
But the sophomore from Franklin, La., became the Eagles' knight in shinning armor after he shedded his catcher's helmet, chest protector and shin guards.
It was Newman who rallied MCC with an emotional speech when the Eagles fell behind the Delgado Community College Dolphins 5-1 in the deciding game of the tournament.
It was Newman who sacrificed his body, crashing into the Dolphins' catcher to score in the top of the sixth to break a 5-5 tie.
It was Newman who hit a two-run double and scored on a squeeze bunt in the fourth inning to tie the game at five.
And it was Newman who was on every Eagles' mind when they won their second straight region title, after a 14-6, seven-inning win over the Dolphins in the deciding game, as the catcher was taken to the hospital to be treated for dehydration.
Federico said Newman was taken to the hospital as a precaution and to help speed up the recovery process.
Newman, who went 6-for-15 with two doubles and four RBIs batting in the No. 9 spot in the tournament, may have scored the game-tying and go-ahead runs for MCC in Sunday afternoon's final game, but he had already laid the foundation for the regional win before his heroics on the base path.
After an emotional loss in the first game, the momentum appeared to be in Delgado's favor. Delgado scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning in the first game to take a 7-4 win, and MCC third baseman Van Pope missed a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth by a couple of feet in the team's final at bat.
The Dolphins took a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the third on a two-run homer and an RBI double, but Newman provided the words of wisdom that keep MCC's spirits up in the deciding game.
Newman didn't just talk about coming back and winning, he performed in the batter's box and on the base path to put the Eagles right back into the game.
The catcher followed a ground-rule double by center fielder Toddrick Johnson, which plated one run to cut MCC's deficit to 5-2, with a two-run double. He followed his run-producing hit by scoring on a squeeze bunt from second baseman Kyle Ginn to tie the game.
Newman came through again for the Eagles in the top of the sixth inning, scoring the go-ahead run on a double by shortstop Michael Murray. Newman crashed into Dolphins catcher Lindon Vogler at home to score safely.
Newman laid prone on the ground after the run-scoring collision gave MCC a 6-5 lead, which the Eagles didn't give up the rest of the game, with teammates patting him on the back. MCC followed the collision by scoring on a wild pitch and posting two runs on a homer by Pope to take a 9-5 lead with three innings to play.
Newman left the game in the top of the seventh when Dillon Sudduth was inserted into the lineup at third base taking over the catcher's No. 9 spot in the lineup.
Newman may not have been on the field when MCC grabbed its eight-run rule win for the region crown, but the Eagles knew who the knight in shining armor was on Sunday afternoon.