FLOYDS KNOBS —
The Jeffersonville baseball team took the first step to a third consecutive Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament championship Monday night.
The Red Devils blew a six-run lead but managed to score a run in the top of the seventh inning and defeated Class 4A No. 1 Floyd Central in the first round of the tournament, 7-6.
Jeff (13-5) will travel to the winner of Tuesday’s opening-round game between Bedford North Lawrence and Madison in Wednesday’s semifinals. The Highlanders (19-3) will visit the loser of the BNL-Madison game in Wednesday’s consolation semis.
With the game tied at 6-6, Jeff senior Chandler Dale drew a walk from Floyd Central starter Kyle Beach to lead off the top half of the seventh.
That prompted Highlanders’ head coach Casey LaDuke to pull Beach for freshman relief pitcher Chas Adams.
Adams committed a balk to move Jeff pinch-runner Jeremiah Phelps, who ran for Dale, to second base. Phelps then advanced to third on a Jared Burke groundout.
With one out, Red Devil third baseman Ian Ellis smacked an opposite-field single into right field to plate Phelps for the go-ahead run.
Jeff (13-5) had a chance to score even more runs, as it loaded the bases with still one out, but pinch runner Jacob Flispart got forced out at home plate and Drew Campbell popped out to shortstop to end the inning.
Floyd Central’s Brandon Smith reached base in the bottom half with a one-out single off Dale, but Dale forced both Beach and the Highlanders’ Ross Lundy to fly out to right field to end the game.
The Red Devils had their way with Beach in the top of the first, scoring six runs on six hits.
After a one-out double by Drew Ellis to left field, Dale laced an opposite-field double into the right-field corner to knock in Hayden Robb and Ellis.
Following a Burke strikeout, Ian Ellis and Josh Burke collected back-to-back RBI singles to put the Red Devils up 4-0. Then Nolan Fertig drilled a deep shot to center for a triple to plate Josh Burke to give Jeff a five-run lead.
Fertig scored a batter later when Joe Burke hit an infield single between second and third base, putting the Red Devils up 6-0.
The Highlanders got two runs in the bottom of the first. With none out and the bases loaded, Dale walked Smith to force in Floyd Central’s Michael Springer from third. Beach then knocked in Highlanders’ catcher Trey Fulton from third on a sacrifice fly.
The Red Devils’ lead slipped to 6-3 in the bottom of the fourth when Floyd Central’s Evan Jewell pulled a single to left to drive in pinch runner Dalton Drexler from third.
The Highlanders tied the game in the fifth. With the bases loaded and two out, Fulton scored on an 0-1 wild pitch. Jewell then hit a pop-up in the infield. Drew Ellis, who was playing shortstop, seemed to lose the ball in the lights as he had his arms spread out while trying to find the ball. The ball dropped behind the Red Devil shortstop, allowing both Drexler and Beach to score to deadlock the game at six.
Dale and Ian Ellis each collected two hits and two RBIs, while Fertig went 2-for-3.
Dale improved his record to 3-4. He went the distance, yielding five earned runs on 10 hits. He struck out five and walked three.
Jewell went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Fulton went 2-for-2 with two runs scored. Colton Kimm had two hits in the loss.
Beach got the loss, giving up all seven Jeff runs (all earned) on eight hits. He fanned seven and walked six.
JEFFERSONVILLE 7, FLOYD CENTRAL 6
Jeffersonville 600 000 1—7 9 1
Floyd Central 200 130 0—6 10 1
W — Chandler Dale (3-4). L — Kyle Beach. 2B – Drew Ellis (J), Dale (J), Trey Fulton (FC), Beach (FC). 3B – Nolan Fertig (J).
Records — Jeff 13-5, Floyd Central 19-3.