By JON REITER
The host Jeffersonville Red Devils snapped No. 1 Floyd Central’s 23-game winning streak with a 1-0 win in the Hoosier Hills Conference baseball tournament championship at Don Poole Field Saturday afternoon.
In a matchup of two of the area’s top left-handed pitchers, Jeffersonville hurler Trent Astle narrowly out-dueled Kyle Sipes over the course of the seven-inning contest and helped the Red Devils take the HHC title. In the complete game shutout, Astle struck out eight Floyd Central batters, only gave up two hits and didn’t allow a single walk.
Red Devils pitchers tossed shutouts in all three HHC games, including Astle’s 2-0 win over Madison last Monday.
“Top to bottom in the lineup, their kids are studs and [Floyd coach] Casey [LaDuke] has them playing very well,” Jeffersonville coach Derek Ellis said. “To win 23 games in a row is really remarkable. Of course, Trent had to throw a two-hitter to get them. We knew it would be a low scoring game, and we had our horse out there.”
After allowing a double to Floyd Central (23-1) catcher Trey Fulton to open the second inning, Astle set down the next 16 Highlander batters again until Fulton connected for another double to center field past a diving Hayden Robb with two outs in the seventh.
After Fulton’s double, Astle got Colton Kimm to fly out to Nolan Fertig in left field to close out the game.
The win avenged Jeff’s 6-5 loss to the Highlanders on April 3 and Astle, well aware of the Highlanders’ penchant for comeback wins as he was working the seventh, said he was happy to bring home the victory.
“My mindset was that even if I gave up one run in the seventh that it’d be OK, because we’d still have the chance to come back and win,” said Astle, who is now 5-1 on the seasonm, including wins over two top-ranked teams. “I tried to put as little pressure on myself as possible, and it ended up working out.”
Sipes, whose record fell to 7-1, was virtually as effective against the Red Devils (14-3), working six innings and giving up one unearned run on four hits and five strikeouts.
The lone Jeffersonville run came following an error by Floyd Central right fielder Kyle Neafus that allowed Josh Burke to reach base with one out in the bottom of the third. Dallas Bott singled Burke to second, and with two outs, a double by Drew Ellis plated him with one of his two doubles to give the Red Devils the lead.
LaDuke was upbeat despite the loss, noting that 23 straight wins is an impressive accomplishment that likely went beyond his hopes and dreams for this point in the season. He also knows there is still plenty of baseball left to play.
“It’s tough because it’s something people have been talking about, and you don’t even really think about it until it happens,” LaDuke said of the streak. “We’ve just happened to be playing really well and have won a bunch of games in a row.
“You never make this sort of thing a goal as a coach. We knew we had some tough games coming up, including this one. We’ll move on. We’ll think about this one a little bit, and we’ll go ahead.”
Floyd Central travels to Clarksville to face Providence Monday, while Jeffersonville hosts Madison on Tuesday. The draw for the Bedford North Lawrence Sectional, in which both teams will play, is also Tuesday.
BULLDOGS BEAT BNL IN 8
BEDFORD — New Albany (16-6) let a 5-0 lead slip away, but the Bulldogs scored twice in the eighth to beat Bedford North Lawrence (9-12) for seventh place in the HHC tournament.
A.J. Nixon went 2 for 4 with two doubles, three runs knocked in, including the go-ahead RBI double in the top of the eighth. Jack Shine had a two-run producing RBI in the first to give the Bulldogs an early lead.
Shane Robison picked up the win with two scoreless innings in relief. He struck out two and gave up one hit.
NEW ALBANY TENNIS TAKES FIFTH PLACE
New Albany’s girls’ tennis team clinched fifth place in the Hoosier Hills Conference with a 4-1 win over BNL on Saturday.
Erin and Marin Kanii won at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively, without dropping a game. The Bulldog doubles teams of Lauren and Emily Hoffer at No. 1 and Anne Mattox and Racquel Burch at No. 2 each won 6-1 and 6-3.