NEW ALBANY — Since the IHSAA class system started in the 1997-98 academic year, Jeffersonville and New Albany share the lead for the most championships within their own Class 4A sectional at seven apiece.
At 7 on Monday night at Mt. Tabor Field, that tie will be broken after the Red Devils and the Bulldogs prevailed in their respective Class 4A New Albany Sectional semifinals on Saturday at Mt. Tabor.
Jeff won its rubber match with rival Floyd Central 6-1 in the first semifinal. The teams split their two meetings in the regular season.
Saturday’s first game was a rematch of last year’s sectional title game, which was won 5-0 by the Red Devils. However, Jeff head coach Derek Ellis denied that his team has the Highlanders’ number right now.
“Baseball is a funny game,” Ellis said. “I think we’re a very good team. Sometimes the best team doesn’t always win, but sometimes it does. Baseball is funny. It’s a one-game scenario — you come out and play and anything can happen. Our sectional is tough.”
In the nightcap, Class 4A No. 4 New Albany thumped Bedford North Lawrence 10-0. The Bulldogs avenged a 5-4 loss to the 14-15 Stars in the fifth-place game of the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament on May 16.
The pitching matchup in Monday’s rivalry championship game is expected to be both teams’ aces, who are Jeff senior right-hander Chandler Dale (5-4) and New Albany senior righty Brandon Johnson (9-1).
“Unless Derek falls and hits his head, I would say it’s a pretty good chance that’s who he is going to pitch against us,” McIntyre joked about the possibility of facing Dale on Monday. “We haven’t faced him, but we’ve seen him pitch a couple of times this year. He’s one of the best pitchers in Indiana. He doesn’t give you a lot of opportunities. When you do get a chance against him, you’ve got to cash in.