By KEVIN HARRIS
NEW ALBANY —
Providence will attempt to break New Albany’s long championship streak in the Stan Sajko Invitational today after the archrivals each won their respective semifinals on Friday night at Mount Tabor Field.
The Class 4A No. 10 Bulldogs defeated North Harrison in the opener in five innings, 14-2 and the Pioneers beat Corydon Central, 4-1 in the nightcap.
New Albany has won the last nine Sajko Invitationals, while Providence has not won the annual tournament since 1990. The Bulldogs defeated the Pioneers earlier this season at Providence, 11-3.
The times for today’s games have been changed because of possibility of rain this evening. The Sajko Invitational consolation game between the Panthers (14-6) and Cougars (14-8) will be at 11 a.m., followed by the championship game at 1:30 p.m.
NEW ALBANY-NORTH HARRISON
The Bulldogs (19-6) were on fire offensively, pounding out 12 hits and having four players with multihit games.
New Albany designated hitter Tanner Robison went 3 for 3 with two runs scored. Teammates Tucker Marcum and Jack Shine each went 2 for 3, and Bulldogs’ catcher Garrett Sherrell was 2 for 4.
Shine and Sherrell were the primary run producers for New Albany. Shine had seven RBIs, as he collected a two-RBI doubles in the bottom of the first inning and then ended the game in the bottom of the fifth with a grand slam over left-field fence.
Sherrell had a grand slam of his own in the bottom of the third. With the bases loaded and two out, Sherrell pulled a 3-2 pitch from North Harrison starting pitcher Micah Napper over the left-field fence to give the Bulldogs a 9-1 lead.
“It was a good day offensively. We put some good swings together, and we had some good at-bats, too. We had some eight- or nine-pitch at-bats that ended up in some walks, so we were watching it pretty well today,” New Albany coach Chris McIntyre said.
Other offensive highlights for New Albany were Logan Striegel scoring four runs and reaching base four times and Dylan Cook coming home twice.
The Bulldogs’ Shane Robison was the winning pitcher, improving his record to 5-1. In a complete-game outing, the senior right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits, striking out two and walking two.
“Shane did good,” McIntyre said. “He had an outstanding junior year, but he’s struggled this year. We’ve been trying to pitch him an inning or two here and there to give him some confidence. It was a good day to have a good outing.”
The Pioneers (16-7) got on the board first. Drew Campbell led off the bottom of the first by drawing a walk from Panthers’ starter Chase Burton. Campbell stole second and then moved to third on a Burton wild pitch.
Teammate Ben Shahroudi plated Campbell with a groundout to second.
Corydon tied the game at one in the top of the third. The Panthers’ Tyler Stauth started the frame with a single to left, followed by teammate Jordan Cockerham reached first on a bunt single that he popped up in front of home plate.
With the bases loaded and one out, a Providence fielding error on a grounder by Burton forced Stauth to come home from third to deadlock the contest.
The Pioneers broke open the game in the bottom of the sixth with three runs. Providence’s Andrew Hunt collected the key hit of the contest, smacking a one-out double to right to knock in two runs to give the Pioneers a 3-1 lead. Hunt then scored the insurance by coming home on another Burton wild pitch.
Providence starter Cristian Ensley got the win. He pitched 6 1/3 innings, yielding one run (unearned) on six hits. Ensley struck out eight and walked one. Pioneers’ reliever Ryan Mueller got his second save of the season, as he retired the final two batters of the game in the top of the seventh.