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Local Sports

Wood starts, Sturtz finishes Newton's walk-off win

Newton pitcher Tyler Wood pitches in the fifth inning against Dallas Center-Grimes 
Tuesday night. Wood threw seven innings and allowed three hits in Newton's 1-0, 
eight-inning victory.
Newton pitcher Tyler Wood pitches in the fifth inning against Dallas Center-Grimes Tuesday night. Wood threw seven innings and allowed three hits in Newton's 1-0, eight-inning victory.

Newton outlasted a potential Big Ten pitcher Tuesday night.

Chandler Sturtz's eighth-inning single scored Michael Barr for the winning run and spoiled a dazzling performance by Dallas Center-Grimes pitcher Cole Baker to lift the Cardinals to a 1-0 victory.

"It was pretty exciting," said Sturtz, who was swarmed by his teammates near the pitcher's mound moments after Barr scored. "Actually, I felt pretty good going up there. I knew I could hit him (Baker). I knew if I just stayed back and went [to the opposite field], I had a pretty good chance."

Sturtz was one of the few Newton batters to have any success against Baker. The Dallas Center-Grimes junior, who has verbally committed to play college baseball at the University of Iowa, dominated the Cardinal lineup most of the night.

Baker struck out a season-high 12 batters, including five in a row at one point. He overpowered hitters through the first three innings with his fastball, which Dallas Center-Grimes head coach Byron Peyton described as "as good a fastball as I've seen him have," and then mixed in a curveball that missed several awkward swings from the Cardinals as the game progressed.

Baker, who wasn't available for comment after the game, pitched 7 2/3 innings while giving up only three hits and walking one.

"He was terrific tonight, about as good as he's been all year," Peyton said. "He wants to be a good pitcher and he does a lot of good things to help himself be a good pitcher, and tonight it kind of all came together."

Baker's counterpart, Newton starter Tyler Wood, prevented the Dallas Center-Grimes right hander from stealing the show. As overwhelming as Baker was at times, Wood was equally as efficient. The Newton junior recorded first-pitch outs in the second, fourth and fifth innings and faced the minimum four times. He kept the Cardinals in the game by locating his pitches low in the strike zone for most of his seven-inning outing and benefitted from solid defensive play throughout.

Wood gave up only three hits, the second-fewest he's allowed in his seven starts this season. He pitched his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth to sustain a scoreless tie and then struck out the final two batters he faced in the seventh.

"I think my stride length was better than usual," he said. "I was following through on my throw a lot better than I was before. I was trying to focus on that but at the same time not think about it too much and just play the game. It was nice we came out with the win."

Newton threatened in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a pair of errors by Dallas Center-Grimes infielders. The inning ended without a run, however, when Sturtz was tagged out at third as he tried to advance following a muffed ground ball by third baseman Tyler Pierson.

Sturtz made up for it in his next at-bat. He laced his second hit of the night, a single to left field, that sent Barr racing home from second base to end the game.

"He (Baker) is one of the best pitchers in the conference by far, so that was a big win for us," Sturtz said, adding it was the first walk-off hit he's had in high school. "Even better. It was fun."

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