On Wednesday night, Class 4A No. 3 Jeffersonville could not buy a hit in its 4-1 loss to Class 4A No. 5 Floyd Central.
On Thursday at Don Poole Field, the Red Devils cashed in at the plate.
After collecting three hits against the Highlanders, Jeff bounced back with 14 hits to defeat visiting Jennings County 14-4 in five innings. Every batter in the Red Devils’ lineup got a hit, and Jeff had five players record a multihit game.
“Who knows?” Jeff coach Derek Ellis said on why his team’s offense rebounded against the Panthers. “I don’t know what they had for lunch or what they had for dinner last night. Whatever it was, you still can’t skip games. We’ve got to be consistent.
“But everybody was aggressive and swung the bats pretty well. I’m very pleased with the way we hit tonight.”
Jeff benefited from not facing the Panthers’ No. 1 pitcher, Caleb Eder, who played first base on Thursday. Plus, Ellis thought Jennings County had an off night in its season opener. In the preseason, the Panthers were considered to be a contender for both the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament championship and the Class 4A sectional title.
“That is a good team, regardless of what the scoreboard says,” Ellis said. “This is their first game. This is the first time they’ve really gotten out and do anything on a baseball field. Their field has been under water and it’s in rough shape. Let’s be honest, they didn’t throw their No. 1.
“Give them a little time, they’ll be a team to reckon with. There is no question about it.”
One Red Devil who needed a big night at the plate was Nolan Fertig.
Entering the contest with only one hit in nine at-bats in Jeff’s first three games, the junior left fielder went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored.
“I followed the ball better. I got better pitches and I swung the bat well,” Fertig said. “I swung at the right pitches tonight because I’ve been swinging at the wrong pitches.”
Jeff senior Drew Ellis went 2-for-2 with a double, three runs scored and an RBI. Teammates Hayden Robb and Jared Burke each were 2-for-3 with a run scored. Burke also had an RBI. Red Devil leadoff batter Drew Campbell was 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning, Jeff tallied three runs to take a 3-1 lead. Drew Ellis tied the game at one when he scored on a throwing error. That was followed by an RBI double by Fertig to right-center field. Later in the inning, Fertig scored on a wild pitch by Jennings County starter Jacob Wingate.
The Red Devils tacked on four more runs in the fourth to go up 7-1. Burke, Campbell and Jeff catcher Trey Dempsey each smacked RBI singles, and Ian Ellis had a one-run double.
The Panthers (0-1) scored three runs in the top of the fourth. Eder scored on an error, and Sam Morris and Tyler Vogel each hit one-run singles.
Jeff got its advantage back up to 8-4 in the bottom half when Fertig plated Drew Ellis on a sacrifice fly. The Red Devils forced the 10-run mercy rule in the fifth thanks to four hits and four Panther errors.
Jeff starter Josh Burke got his first victory of the young season. In a complete-game effort, the senior right-hander allowed four runs (one earned) on five hits. He struck out five and walked two.
“Josh did a very nice job. I’m very pleased with the way Josh pitched,” Coach Ellis said. “He’s a senior, but he’s stepped into a very tough spot. We’re going to need him to pitch, and we’re going to see a lot more of Josh Burke. Hopefully, this will build a little confidence for him.”
Eder went 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored.
The Red Devils host Castle at 7:30 tonight.
JEFFERSONVILLE 14, JENNINGS COUNTY 4
Jennings County 100 30— 4 5 6
Jeffersonville 304 16—14 14 1
W — Josh Burke (1-0). L — Jacob Wingate (0-1). 2B — Caleb Eder (JC), Nolan Fertig 2 (Jeff), Drew Ellis (Jeff), Ian Ellis (Jeff), Burke (Jeff).
Records — Jeffersonville 2-2, Jennings County 0-1.