By MATTHEW CRESS
FLOYDS KNOBS —
The Floyd Central baseball team had 10 hits, got a strong performance from starting pitcher Brandon Smith and otherwise did enough to win.
It didn’t hurt that New Albany decided to help out a bit.
The visiting Bulldogs committed eight errors on the night, and the Highlanders capitalized on enough of them to take the lead, then tacked on seven runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to roll to a 12-4 win at Highlander Field on Wednesday night.
Class 4A No. 2 Floyd Central now owns a win over both of its biggest rivals — New Albany and Jeffersonville — and improved to 6-0 on the season.
“It’s nice to win,” said Floyd Central coach Casey LaDuke. “But there are bigger games down the road. It’ll be a bigger game when we see them [New Albany] later and we want to be ready for them then.”
Still, the Highlanders appeared more than ready, even after falling into a two-run hole in the first inning. Floyd answered right back when Michael Springer drew a walk from New Albany starter Noah Smith, then saw Trey Fulton reach on the first Bulldog error. Colton Kimm and Brandon Smith each delivered RBI singles to knot the score at 2.
Floyd found the scoreboard in each of its first three turns at the plate, tacking on two more runs in the bottom of the second and another in the third, this one coming on a wild pitch from relief pitcher A.J. Nixon, who took Noah Smith’s place at the start of the frame.
Down 5-2, the Bulldog offense rallied with two runs in the top of the fourth, a spurt begun with one of the two errors Floyd Central committed on the night. Timmie Redford reached on a Springer miscue, and scored two batters later when Tucker Marcum belted a double to the gap in right center that also plated Jarris McClure, who had reached on a walk. That made it 5-4, a count that held up until the Highlander bats surged to life in the sixth.
“As bad as we played, it was a one-run game in the sixth inning,” said New Albany coach Chris McIntyre. “So we must have done a few things right.”
All that positive momentum stopped when Trey Fulton, who already had a two-run home run in the second-inning to his credit, began the Highlander rally by ripping a double down the third-base line. Kimm then reached on an error and Floyd loaded the bases on a bunt single by Brandon Smith.
That brought up Kyle Beach, who belted the second of Floyd’s three doubles in the inning and scoring two runs. Ross Lundy followed up with a double to right that likewise scored two runs.
Phillip Archer then struck out but reached base anyway after an error on the New Albany catcher. Charlie Loveall then scored Lundy by grounding out to second base and Archer came around on a shot by Springer, who again reached on an error. Kimm then put an exclamation point on the rally with an RBI single to left field. New Albany committed three errors in the frame.
“Pretty much, we were a train wreck on defense,” said McIntyre. “We failed our first difficult test. But it’s very early. We still don’t know what we have. I think the game was really fast, and it moved too fast for some of our guys. But they’ll get used to it. That’ll come with just playing more at this level.”
Brandon Smith ended up with 11 strikeouts — fanning the side in the third inning — and the victory on the mound, a result that LaDuke wasn’t surprised to see.
“It’s early and Brandon is working on his control,” LaDuke said. “I thought that was a strength of our team coming into the season is that we have experienced pitchers. We went a little longer with him than we wanted, but now he’ll get some rest and be ready to go from here.”
Nixon added an RBI double for New Albany, which will try to rebound against Class 3A No. 1 Japer on Saturday. Floyd Central will play Jennings County and Scottsburg on Saturday.
FLOYD CENTRAL 12, NEW ALBANY 6
New Albany 200 200 0— 4 6 8
Floyd Central 221 007 x—12 10 2
W — Brandon Smith. L — Noah Smith. 2B — Tanner Marcum (N), A.J. Nixon (N), Kyle Beach (F), Ross Lundy (F). HR — Trey Fulton (F).
Records — New Albany 7-1, Floyd Central 6-0.