The Floyd Central baseball team turned this showdown into a showcase.
To be exact, the Class 4A No. 5 Highlanders got to demonstrate a little bit of everything on Tuesday night, holding the third-ranked Red Devils to just three hits and packing enough of an offensive punch to roll past host Jeff 4-1to improve to 2-0 on the season.
Meanwhile, Jeff — the state’s top-ranked team in the preseason — dropped its second straight game to fall to 1-2.
“It’s a good feeling, because we know Jeff is good,” said Highlander coach Casey LaDuke. “We also know that New Albany is good — we have a lot of really good teams on our schedule.”
Regardless of the opponent, pitching like Floyd got on Tuesday will make things easier. Senior Alex Koopman tossed five innings of two-hit ball, giving up one earned run while striking out three. He was spelled by junior Colton Kimm, who gave up just one hit — a seventh-inning double to Chandler Dale — and struck out two in his two innings of work.
“It’s the third game,” Jeff coach Derek Ellis said. “We just have to find a way to put the bat on the ball — and we will.”
It didn’t appear to be a problem for the Red Devils in the early going, as Drew Ellis smashed a solo home run to right-center field in the first inning to give Dale a 1-0 lead. It was an edge the Red Devil starter would carry for much of the way.
Dale, who finished with six strikeouts, held Floyd in check until the fifth inning, when sophomore Phillip Archer led off with a single. Two batters later, Michael Springer came up with the first of his crucial hits, this one a single that scored pinch runner Dalton Drexler. That brought up catcher Trey Fulton, who delivered an RBI single of his own that scored Charlie Loveall, who had reached on an error.
“Chandler was maybe getting a little tired and he was up to 100 pitches at that point,” Coach Ellis said. “But he would have gone ballistic if I had taken him out there, so that’s on me. He pitched well enough for us to beat Fort Wayne Carroll, and he pitched well enough for us to beat Floyd Central. We just didn’t give him any help.”
The Highlanders added two runs in their final at-bat, with Springer coming through once again. Loveall singled to open the inning, and moved over to third base on a base hit from Aiden Cora. Springer took a strike before hitting a line drive into shallow left field that fell in for a single and scored both Loveall and Cora. The senior had three hits to go with his three RBIs on the evening.
“We expect a lot out of Michael,” said LaDuke, who noted that Springer is one of just three seniors on the roster. “We expect him to that kind of stuff and kind of lead by his example. It was great to see that he had such a good game in such a big game.”
Floyd may have tacked on more runs in the fifth, as Dale hit Fulton to put two runners on with none out. That brought in Drew Ellis, who quickly ended the potential rally by getting Kimm to fly out before retiring Brandon Smith and Kyle Beach.
Not much changed when Kimm replaced Koopman on the mound for Floyd to open the sixth inning. The Floyd junior struck out Troy Dempsey, got Drew Campbell to pop out and fanned Hayden Robb to start his evening, and then got three Red Devils to ground out to strand Ian Ellis and finish Jeff off.
Perhaps it wasn’t the start that many expected for the Red Devils, but Derek Ellis remained confident that his team will find a way to get back to its winning ways.
“This isn’t the time to panic or anything,” he said. “Floyd Central is a very good baseball club, but we are a very good baseball club. Once we find our groove, we’ll end up on the positive side of the scoreboard.”
Jeff will get its next chance when it hosts another Hoosier Hills Conference rival — Jennings County — tonight.
Floyd Central will try to continue its hot start on Friday, when it hosts Northfield.
FLOYD CENTRAL 4, JEFFERSONVILLE 1
Floyd Central 000 020 2—4 9 0
Jeffersonville 100 000 0—1 3 1
WP — Alex Koopman (1-0). LP — Chandler Dale (0-1). 2B — Dale (J), Ian Ellis (J). HR — Drew Ellis (J).
Records — Floyd Central 2-0, Jeffersonville 1-2.