By GREG MENGELT
NEW ALBANY —
Jeff/GRC’s 9-10-year-old All-Stars came into Saturday’s championship game averaging more than 14 runs per game and were coming off back-to-back 21-run performances.
None of that mattered to New Albany pitcher Ray Reisinger.
Reisinger pitched a three-hit shutout and sent New Albany to the state finals with a 3-0 triumph over Jeff/GRC in the District 5 championship game. The district championship is New Albany’s third straight in the Minor League division. It has won the past two 9-10 state championships.
“This was just as exciting, I’ll tell you that,” said New Albany manager Josh Biven, who managed both previous state championship teams. “Two played [on the state championship team] last year, but these are 11 new kids and I want them to have the experience of hanging that [state championship] banner on the dugout.”
After seeing what New Albany has, Jeff manager Chuck Watson said he expect New Albany to do just that.
“We knew that this team is loaded,” Watsons said of New Albany. “I really think they should be favorites in the state. It would surprise me if they don’t win. They have big bats and they have the pitching.”
Of the state tournament, which will be held at Jeff/GRC from July 18-24, Austin Oppel said New Albany’s goal is to “have fun and win state.”
On Saturday, Reisinger pitched a complete game and struck out six Jeff batters. He retired the last 11 batters he faced.
“My off-speed pitches were good and my fastball had good life to it,” Reisinger explained.
“I think [Reisinger’s performance] was real impressive,” Watson said, “because one of our strengths is we’re a real good hitting team from top to bottom. He kept us off balance and that’s what he needed to do.”
Jeffersonville pitcher Gavin Seebold was every bit as impressive as Reisinger through four innings. He had had surrendered just three hits and struck out six before Tucker Biven and Oppel hit opened the fifth inning with back-to-back singles.
“I thought Gavin Seebold did a fantastic job. I was ecstatic [with his performance],” Watson said. “He hit locations and he kept them off balance, as well. Just a couple plays here and there was the difference in the game.”
After Biven and Oppel reached, Seebold gave way to Eli Watson. A wild pitch allowed the two New Albany baserunners to move up to second and third, leading to the key offensive play of the game.
A second pitch got by Jeff catcher Dylan Thomas, allowing Biven to score the go-ahead run. When Thomas threw the ball back to Watson, Oppel broke for home and beat the throw to the plate to give New Albany a 2-0 lead.
“The catcher tossed it and the pitcher wasn’t looking, so I thought that I’d go,” Oppel described the play.
“As Austin came around third, I said ‘Watch it, watch it’ if he throws the ball to the pitcher,” Coach Biven recalled yelling at Oppel. “Austin Oppel’s one of the fastest kids on the team and he scooted home.”
Reisinger said having the lead helped his confidence on the mound in the final two innings.
“I had a lead to pitch with and I pitched better,” he said.
Watson pitched his way out of the jam in the fifth, but Oppel hit a two-out RBI bloop single into right field to scored Jaxon Murphy for a 3-0 New Albany lead in the top of the sixth.
“I knew that we needed to get another run on the board,” Oppel said.
“It was a huge insurance run,” Josh Biven said. “I wanted one run and we got one run and came in and held them in the sixth.”
Oppel finished 2-for-3 and reached base three times. He was the only New Albany batter with multiple hits, but Luke Vick and Hunter Sprigler, who had back-to-back singles in the second inning, each reached base twice.
Jared Flaten, Kyle Tincher and Seebold each had a hit for Jeff, which finished the tournament 5-1. Seebold had a two-out double down the left-field line in the second.
Despite the loss, Chuck Watson said he believes his team can accomplish big things in the next few years.
“I think the future’s bright,” he said. “They’re emotional now, but we have a good foundation. All the pieces are there to the puzzle. These kids are fantastic kids. They didn’t do anything wrong. They just beat us.”
At Mt. Tabor Park, New Albany
NEW ALBANY 3, JEFF/GRC 0
New Albany 000 021—3 8 0
Jeff/GRC 000 000—0 3 2
W — Ray Reisinger. L — Gavin Seebold. 2B — Seebold (J).
Records — New Albany 6-0, Jeff/GRC 5-1.
STATE FINALS SCHEDULE
WEDNESDAY, JULY 18
Game 2 — District 13 vs. District 10, 5:30 p.m.
Game 1 — New Albany vs. District 6, 8 p.m.
Game 3 — District 4 vs. District 4, 8 p.m.
Game 4 — District 11 vs. District 4, 5:30 p.m.
Game 5 — District 2 vs. District 3, 8 p.m.
Game 6 — District 7 vs. District 9, 5:30 p.m.
THURSDAY, JULY 19
Game 7 — New Albany/District 6 winner vs. District 8, 8 p.m.
Game 8 — District 13/District 10 winner vs. District 4, 8 p.m.
Game 9 — District 14/District 11 winner vs. District 12, 5:30 p.m.
Game 10 — District 3/District 2 winner vs. District 9/District 7 winner, 8 p.m.
Game 11 — District 13/District 10 loser vs. District 4 loser, 5:30 p.m.
Game 12 — District 3/District 2 loser vs. District 9/District 7 loser, 5:30 p.m.
FRIDAY, JULY 20
Game 13 — Game 11 winner vs. Game 7 loser, 5:30 p.m.
Game 14 — Game 1 loser vs. Game 8 loser, 8 p.m.
Game 15 — Game 9 loser vs. Game 12 winner, 5:30 p.m.
Game 16 — Game 4 loser vs. Game 10 loser, 8 p.m.
SATURDAY, JULY 21
Game 17 — Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 8 p.m.
Game 18 — Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 8 p.m.
Game 19 — Game 13 winner vs. Game 14 winner, 5:30 p.m.
Game 20 — Game 15 winner vs. Game 16 winner, 5:30 p.m.
Game 21 — Game 19 winner vs. Game 17 loser, 6:30 p.m.
Game 22 — Game 20 winner vs. Game 18 loser, 6:30 p.m.
TUESDAY, JULY 23
Game 17 winner vs. Game 21 winner, 6:30 p.m.
Game 18 winner vs. Game 22 winner, 6:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, JULY 24
Semifinal winners, 6:30 p.m.