With no margin for error in the Florida State League Finals, Charlotte turned to its postseason superstar, David Newmann, on Tuesday. He didn't disappoint.
Newmann completely shut down Tampa with six no-hit innings and in the bottom of the sixth, Greg Sexton teed off on a three-run homer en route to the Stone Crabs' 3-1 victory.
Newmann ended up allowing a run on four hits and a walk with four strikeouts over a career-high 8 2/3 innings. Richard De Los Santos closed out the game for his third save of the playoffs.
"We knew were were going to get that kind of performance from [Newmann]," Sexton said. "We just needed a couple of runs.
"He was doing really well. The last two nights we just hadn't had a big hit with men on base. He left it up and luckily I got under it a bit and it got out."
With a no-hit bid intact in the sixth, Sexton stepped to the plate. He lined a shot over the wall in left field, but even the third baseman wasn't even sure it was a homer at first.
"I was hoping it would get out," he said. "Then I was hoping it would just go over his head. There's a railing (beyond the fence) and it actually came back over."
The shot "relieved" Newmann, even though Tampa's David Adams then led off the seventh with the first hit of the game off the lefty.
"I knew I hadn't given up a hit, but I didn't know I had thrown 60-something pitches through six," Newmann said. "I've been needing to get my pitch count down, so that was almost better."
Although it's Charlotte's first season in the league, the Stone Crabs haven't been fazed in potential elimination scenarios. They lost the first game of the semifinals to division foe Fort Myers before winning the next two to advance to the Finals.
"We were really loose," Sexton said. "We were in the same situation against Fort Myers. So we felt comfortable and confident."
Newmann was key to the Sept. 11 finale in the semifinals, fanning a career-high 10 over six innings in the 3-2 victory.
"I came in there with a game plan, to try to make them do all the work for me," the hurler said of both starts. "I was able to locate a lot of pitches. I got them to hit balls on the ground and the defense behind me made it easy."
With his first professional season behind him, the former Texas A&M hurler admits he's learned a lot.
"It took me half the year to learn the difference between college and pro," Newmann said. "The game plan is completely different. Thankfully, I figured it out. ... [In the college game,] you want to go for the strikeout every time. Here, you can't do that and you have to adjust to that."
All that's left for Newmann this season is Game 5, which Charlotte will host at 7:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday to decide the championship.
"I don't think there's going to be much resting in that dugout," he said. "I'm ready to jump on the dogpile."