Grizzlies make their two hits count in win over Aviators

News-DemocratJune 4, 2014 

— For first-year Gateway pitcher Aaron Newcomb, the wins kept coming and the earned run average kept dropping Wednesday at GCS Ballpark.

Entering his start Wednesday with a 0.47 ERA, Newcomb, a Carlyle resident and Centralia native, allowed four hits in eight shutout innings as he led the Grizzlies to a 2-0 win over the Rockford Aviators in a Frontier League game.

Gateway (12-6) managed only two hits -- solo home runs from Michael Wing and Xavier Macklin -- against three Rockford pitchers, but they were more than enough as Newcomb and closer Richard Barrett slammed the door on the Aviators on a humid night at GCS Ballpark.

Barrett pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to pick up his fifth save of the season. But the story was Newcomb, who lowered his ERA TO 0.33.

"Aaron has come in and just been outstanding every time he's been out on the mound. But he's worked hard to get to this point. He really worked hard on his mechanics over the offseason and now he's seeing the results of that hard work,'' Grizzlies manager Phil Warren said. "We didn't get a lot of hits tonight, but we made them count.''

The 24-year-old Newcomb is a 2008 graduate of Centralia High School.

After attending Olney Central College for two years, Newcomb transferred to Delta State University in Mississippi, where he won 18 games in his two years and helped guide his team to a second-place finish in the NCAA Division II World Series as a senior.

A 19th-round selection in the 2012 MLB draft by the California Angels, Newcomb went a combined 4-5 in the Angels' system before being signed by the Grizzlies in March.

In his first three starts with Gateway, Newcomb surrendered only three runs -- one earned -- and 13 hits in 19 innings.

But Wednesday before a sparse turnout of 1,500, Newcomb once again was at the top of his game.

And once again he was cheered on by members of his family, who made the 45-minute trek from Clinton County to see their favorite pitcher.

"It's great to be so close to home to where the family can come and watch me. Usually there are several family members here each time I pitch,'' Newcomb said. "It's great to be able to pitch and be effective. The key is my mechanics. I've really spent a lot of time improving in that area.

"Tonight, I got ahead of the hitters and the defense made the plays behind me. That's the way I pitch. I'm not a big strike out guy.''

The Aviators' only scoring chance came in the third inning. Designated hitter Ryan Breen led off with a single and two outs later advanced to second on a single by Tanner Witt.

But Newcomb got out of the inning by striking out Rockford right fielder Jeff Kremer.

Offensively, the Grizzlies weren't doing a lot against Rockford starter Cole Green (0-3).

Wing, who hit a solo home run and drove in three runs in the Grizzlies 7-4 loss on Tuesday, provided Newcomb with an early lead when he took a 2-0 pitch from Green and hit a high, towering home run over the center-field fence for a 1-0 Gateway lead.

Two innings later, Macklin made it 2-0 with a home run to left. The home runs were the only hits allowed by Green, who worked 5 2/3 innings.

Reliever Trevor Shull -- with the aid of a diving catch of Kremer in right -- got out of a jam in the bottom of the sixth inning.

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