[Parts of this article have been altered from it's original publishing. Visit ncnewts.com for the full report.]
SAUGANY LAKE - The three-game series between the New Carlisle Newts and Saugany Lake Landsharks quickly developed into a bout between Danny Hernandez and Austin Traxler, both at the plate and on the mound.
Unfortunately for New Carlisle, Traxler landed the final punch - a walk-off home run in the seventh inning of the rubber match to lead the Landsharks (3-3) to a series win, 17-13, 6-10, and 6-5 (F/7).
The Newts (2-4) have now lost the deciding game in each of their first two series in extra innings and continue to struggle to find consistency in regular season play.
In game one, Traxler jumped on the Newts early, homering in three of his first four at-bats against Koby Keck. Two of the bombs came in the third inning, where the Sharks put up seven runs to flip a 6-4 Newts lead to a five-run deficit for New Carlisle.
Keck couldn't get the last out in the frame, handing the ball over to Hernandez in relief. Hernandez pitched the rest of the series, setting up the duel with Traxler, who threw all 19 innings for the Sharks.
In the three games, both Hernandez and Traxler homered eight times, leading their respective offenses. After his Opening Day struggles at Migley Field, the breakout performance for Hernandez raised his batting average to .385 on the young season.
It was also a milestone night for Hernandez, as he collected his 500th career hit in ORWBL play, becoming just the seventh player to hit that mark.
New Carlisle also received a boost from Noah Shail, who made his season debut. The former ORWBL MVP played in just three games last season and has already surpassed his number of plate appearances from 2018. Serving as the lead-off man in the absence of Garrett Curless, Shail did his job and got on base, going 12-for-20 in the series.
The Newts rebounded nicely from the game one loss, as four home runs from Hernandez and two from Zarek Finley carried New Carlisle to a 10-6 victory in the second game.
In the finale, it seemed as if a series win was finally in the cards for the Newts. Leading 3-2 going into the sixth inning, New Carlisle received two huge insurance runs on solo blasts by Sean Touhey and Shail.
However, the 5-2 lead evaporated in the bottom of the sixth when Erick Mentock (two-run shot) and Levi Miller went back-to-back to force extras.
New Carlisle continues a six-game road trip this weekend with a series against the Scottsdale Silver Sluggers on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1pm ET.
Sauagany Lake now brings their record to 3-3 with the series victory. The Landsharks will continue head to Elkhart on Sunday to take on the BFAM (3-3) in their first away games of the season.