By GREG MENGELT
NEW ALBANY —
Jeff/GRC beat Charlestown 10-0 in Monday’s first 11-12 District 5 Tournament baseball semifinal and is looking to win back-to-back Major League Division titles at 8 tonight at Mt. Tabor Park.
New Albany scored five times in the bottom of the sixth inning to stun previously-unbeaten Silver Creek 6-5 in the second semifinal.
Jeff beat New Albany 7-5 on a Jack Ellis walk-off grand slam during pool play.
It’s the third straight year New Albany and Jeff — historically the district’s two most dominant teams — will meet for the District 5 championship.
“It’s going to be an unbelievable matchup,” Jeff manager Chuck Latham said.
“Jeff’s got a great team,” New Albany manager Kevin Ricketts said. “It’s going to take a perfect performance from us to compete with those guys. But just like UK-U of L, you can throw out the records in a rivalry game.”
NEW ALBANY 6, SILVER CREEK 5
After coming in and getting out of a bases-loaded jam with a pair of strikeouts in the bottom of the fifth, Silver Creek’s Jack Hawkins struck out Carson Gentry for the first out of the bottom of the sixth.
After producing just one run on five hits through 5 1/3 innings, no one could have predicted what was about to happen.
The next seven New Albany batters reached base and Cody Medley hit a single past second base to bring home Cooper Biven with the winning run and set off a New Albany celebration.
“These kids just don’t give up,” Ricketts said.
Hawkins hit Trevor Laughead to start the rally. New Albany’s Thomas Ogden, who came off the bench and went 2-for-2, then singled and No. 9 hitter Andrew Ricketts walked to load the bases.
“It started with the bottom of the order,” Kevin Ricketts said. “They set the table for the top guys.”
Silver Creek reliever Tyler Wheeler walked New Albany leadoff hitter Nolan Keeler to bring home Laughead and Biven was walked to plate pinch-runner Devin Gummer. New Albany’s Dylan Clark then singled to bring home Keeler with the tying run, leading to Medley’s rocket into right field that brought home Biven with the winning score.
Silver Creek hit three home runs in the first two innings and jumped out to a 5-0 lead.
Silver Creek appeared ready for Clark, New Albany’s ace pitcher, from the first pitch.
After Silver Creek’s Kaden Williams lined out hard to second baseman Andrew Ricketts at second, Wheeler hit a deep home run over the Mt. Tabor Park center-field fence for a 1-0 lead after one inning.
Kevin Smith nearly gave New Albany its first lead of the game in the bottom of the first. With two outs and two on, Smith hit a deep shot just outside of the left-field foul pole against Silver Creek starter Elijah Bays. Two pitches later, Bays struck out Smith to get out of the jam and preserve the 1-0 Silver Creek lead.
In the second inning, Caleb Rotenberger made it 3-0 Silver Creek when he hit a two-run home run almost to the exact same spot as Wheeler had to open the scoring. Rotenberger’s shot also brought home Hawkins, who singled into left field to start the frame.
One out later, Williams hit the team’s third homer over the center-field fence. Williams’ shot was the deepest yet, easily clearing the fence and chasing Clark from the mound in favor of Biven.
Silver Creek made it 5-0 in the fourth when Williams was hit by a Biven pitch, went to second on a wild pitch and scored following Josh Landers’ third single and a throwing error.
Gummer’s speed helped get New Albany on the board in the bottom of the fourth. Gummer swung at Strike 3, but the ball got by Silver Creek catcher Tyler Kapust and Gummer beat his throw to first. After going to second on a wild pitch, an Ogden RBI single brought Gummer home to cut Silver Creek’s lead to 5-1. However, Ogden was thrown out at second trying to stretch his single into a double.
After Biven set down Silver Creek 1-2-3 for the first time in the fifth, New Albany loaded the bases with one out when Bays hit Keeler with a pitch, walked Biven and gave up an infield single by Clark.
That brought on Hawkins to face the heart of the New Albany order. Hawkins stuck out Medley and Smith — both on three pitches — to sustain Creek’s four-run cushion.
Biven struck out the side in the top of the sixth to lead to the New Albany heroics.
JEFF/GRC 10, CHARLESTOWN 0
Jeff jumped on Charlestown for two runs in each of the first two innings and improved to 5-0 in district play.
After Brady Latham and Drew Taylor scored a pair of runs in the first inning, Taylor hit a two-run home run in the second for a 4-0 Jeff lead. GRC then put the game away by playing small ball for five more runs in the third.
“We’re very happy with how we’ve been playing,” Chuck Latham said. “Mentally, we’ve been very tough the whole tourney.”
Taylor scored twice and knocked in three runs for Jeff.
Drew Fifer allowed just one hit — a third-inning double by Charlestown’s Aaron Meyer — in 3 2/3 innings for Jeff. He struck out five and walked just two. He threw 38 of his 53 pitches for strikes.
“Our question mark coming in was our pitching,” Chuck Latham admitted. “But they’ve been unbelievable. Absolutely terrific.”
LITTLE LEAGUE DISTRICT 5
11-12 MAJOR DIVISION
JEFF/GRC 10, CHARLESTOWN 0
Jeff/GRC 225 1—10 6 1
Charlestown 000 0— 0 1 2
W — Drew Fifer. L — Aaron Meyer. 2B — Brady Latham (J), Ethan English (J), Meyer (C). HR — Drew Taylor (J).
Records — Jeff 5-0, Charlestown 1-4.
SILVER CREEK 5, NEW ALBANY 1
Silver Creek 130 100—5 7 1
New Albany 000 105—6 9 1
W — Cooper Biven. L — Tyler Wheeler. HR — Wheeler (S), Caleb Rotenberger (S), Kaden Williams (S).