By KEVIN HARRIS
NEW ALBANY — Throughout its history, the Jeffersonville-New Albany baseball rivalry has had plenty of dramatic finishes.
On Wednesday night at Mt. Tabor Field, the Ohio River rivalry produced another instant classic.
Noah Smith smacked a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the Bulldogs a thrilling 7-6 victory.
The frame began when New Albany’s Jack Shine reached first base on a throwing error by Red Devil relief pitcher Joe Burke. With one out, Shine moved up to second on a stolen base when teammate Brady Parr struck out.
After A.J. Nixon was intentionally walked, Smith lined a single that deflected off Jeff third baseman Josh Burke and went into left field. Shine scored from second for the game-winner.
The Bulldogs (10-2) got on the scoreboard first thanks to Nixon.
The sophomore right fielder collected an RBI single to drive in Parr from second and then came home on a passed ball to give New Albany a 2-0 lead.
But the Red Devils (6-3) answered in the top of the third with five runs off New Albany starter Tanner Goller. With the bases loaded and two out, a New Albany throwing error allowed Jacob Flispart and Drew Ellis to come home to tie the game at two. Then sophomore Ian Ellis launched a three-run home run over the left-field fence to give the Red Devils a 5-2 advantage.
In the bottom half, the Bulldogs pulled to within one at 5-3 when Parr drilled a two-out RBI single into right-center to plate Matt Sogge from third. Senior Chandler Dale got the Jeff lead back up to three in the top of the fourth with a two-out RBI base hit.
But the Bulldogs responded with some timely hitting of their own in the bottom of the fourth.
With two out and the bases loaded, junior first baseman Joey Collins smacked an opposite-field single into right off Jeff starter Josh Burke. The base hit knocked in Sheldon Miller-Embry and Tucker Marcum to cut New Albany’s deficit to 6-5.
The heart of the Bulldogs’ order tied the game in the bottom of the seventh. After Collins led off the frame with a single to left, Parr nailed an opposite-field triple off Joe Burke into the right-field corner to plate pinch-runner Justin Striegel to deadlock the game at six.
New Albany had a chance to score the winning run in the seventh. But after Jeff coach Derek Ellis decided to intentionally walk Nixon and Smith to load the bases with none out, Joe Burke recorded back-to-back strikeouts. Then the Red Devils got out of the frame when Sogge was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice.
Bulldogs’ ace pitcher Brandon Johnson relieved Goller in the top of the eighth and shut down the Red Devils the rest of the way. The Xavier University signee threw four scoreless innings to improve his record to 5-0. He allowed no hits and one walk while striking out seven. Johnson fanned six of the final seven batters he faced.
Goller surrendered six runs (one earned) on seven hits in seven innings of work. He struck out six, walked two and hit two batters.
Despite earning the loss, Joe Burke had a solid outing on the mound. In his seven innings, he gave up two runs — one earned — on five hits with eight strikeouts and four walks. Josh Burke lasted four frames, yielding five runs, four of which were earned, on seven hits. He hit three batters, walked one and fanned one.
Sogge led the Bulldogs at the plate, going 4-for-5 with a double and a run scored. Smith went 2-for-4 with an RBI, Parr was 2-for-5 with a triple and two RBIs, and Collins went 2-for-6 with a pair of RBIs.
Drew Ellis was 2-for-3 with a run scored, and Robb ended up 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Jeff will visit Louisville St. Xavier tonight. New Albany will host Evansville Reitz in a doubleheader on Saturday.
JEFFERSONVILLE 7, NEW ALBANY 6
Jeffersonville 005 100 000 00—6 7 1
New Albany 021 200 100 01—7 12 2
W — Brandon Johnson. L — Joe Burke. 2B — Matt Sogge (NA). 3B — Brady Parr (NA). HR — Ian Ellis (J).
Records — Jeff 6-3, New Albany 10-2.