FLOYDS KNOBS —
Just one more hit.
That has been the theme to the Floyd Central baseball team’s two meetings with archrival New Albany this season.
On Tuesday at Highlander Field, the completion of the opening-round game of the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament between the two rivals strengthened that theme for the Highlanders.
The Class 4A No. 4 Bulldogs broke a 1-1 tie with in the top of the 11th inning and hung on to defeat Floyd Central, 2-1. New Albany (20-2) will visit Jeffersonville at 6 tonight in the tournament semifinals. The Highlanders (11-9) will travel to Madison at 6 tonight in the loser’s bracket semis.
Heavy rain suspended the game on Monday in the top of the sixth with the Bulldogs leading 1-0.
In their first matchup on April 11 at Highlander Field, Floyd Central was up 4-2 after six innings before New Albany scored five runs in the top of the seventh to win 7-4.
“We’ve played them tough two times,” Highlanders’ head coach Casey LaDuke said. “We felt we gave one away the first time. We’re right there. We just need that hit.”
The one inning Floyd Central could have used that one clutch hit was the bottom of the sixth.
The Highlanders got off to a great start in the frame. Cody Sunderhaus led off the inning with an infield single and then advanced to second base on a sacrifice by Derek DeSpain. Sunderhaus then advanced to third when Garrett Shanks grounded out to shortstop.
The next batter, Jacob Snodgrass, tied the score at one with a single to left field to knock in Sunderhaus. Snodgrass then got into scoring position by advancing to second.
But the inning ended with Tanner Wortham flying out to right, as Floyd Central came up short of getting that clutch hit against the Bulldogs.
In the top of the 11th, New Albany got its leadoff man on base for the first time since the fourth as Tucker Marcum smacked a base hit to center. Teammate Eric Burnett laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Marcum to second, followed by a Jordan Striegel walk. The base on balls prompted LaDuke to pull Floyd relief pitcher Kyle Sipes for Jordan Thompson.
Thompson loaded the bases as he walked Bulldog catcher Garrett Sherrell. Then on a 1-1 pitch, Logan Striegel smacked an RBI single to left to plate Marcum, putting New Albany up 2-1.
Bulldogs’ head coach Chris McIntyre said Marcum getting on base was critical in getting the game-winning run.
“If you don’t get the leadoff man on, you can’t put the sacrifice on,” McIntyre said. “You put more pressure on the defensive guys (when you get the leadoff man on).”
The Highlanders’ Ross Lundy began the bottom of the 11th with a single. But New Albany got three straight outs after that to sew up its 20th victory of the season.
Bulldogs’ relief pitcher Shane Robison got the victory to improve his record to 6-0. Robison relieved starter Josh Rogers, who pitched five scoreless innings on Monday, when the game resumed. In six innings of work, Robison yielded one run (earned) on three hits.
“It was a tough situation for him to get into since there is no margin for error,” McIntyre said.
LaDuke tipped his hat to Rogers and Robison.
“You’ve got to credit their pitching staff,” LaDuke said. “We felt we had opportunities where we can get one hit to win it. But we didn’t get that one hit.”
McIntyre decided to not pitch Rogers on Tuesday because his star left-hander’s arm was sore from Monday’s work. Plus the game was not in the postseason and McIntyre did not want to risk injuring Rogers in a regular-season contest.
“Josh said he felt sore. Also, it was not a state tournament game, so there was no sense bringing him back out there,” McIntyre said. “There is a lot of baseball left to be played.”
New Albany’s defense was solid throughout the game. The Bulldogs committed no errors and turned two double plays. Plus throughout the game, the left side of New Albany’s infield — shortstop Jordan Striegel and third baseman Cameron Mullins — made several impressive fielding plays to keep Floyd Central’s offense at-bay.
“If they don’t make those plays, this game would’ve been done a long time ago,” McIntyre said. “Our defense has kept us in a lot of games this year.”
Mullins also was solid at the plate, going 3-for-3 with an RBI. Marcum was 2-for-5 with a run scored.
Despite giving up the game-winning run, Sipes had a sound relief outing. He relieved Floyd Central starter Matt Powers at the start of Tuesday’s action. In five innings of work, Sipes allowed one run (earned) on three hits with five strikeouts and five walks.
“He did fine. He got to 90 pitches and we had to take him out,” LaDuke said.
Snodgrass was the only Highlander with a multihit game, going 2-for-4 with an RBI.
The Bulldogs will be facing the Red Devils (9-6) for the second time this season tonight at Don Poole Field. Jeff won the first meeting on April 18 at Mount Tabor Field, 4-0.
NEW ALBANY 000 100 000 01—2 9 0
FLOYD CEN. 000 001 000 00—1 5 1
W — Robison (6-0). L — Sipes (3-2).
Records — New Albany 20-2, Floyd Central 11-9.