By GREG MENGELT
NEW ALBANY —
Floyd Central’s bats stayed hot and Highlander reliever Garrett Ruttle got a key sixth-inning strikeout to help Floyd stay unbeaten with a 10-5 victory over rival New Albany at Mt. Tabor Field on Wednesday.
Seven different Highlanders scored at least one run and five drove home at least one baserunner for 9-0 Floyd, which scored 20 runs on 21 hits on Tuesday at Forest Park.
“We’re hitting,” Floyd coach Casey LaDuke said. “We when we were looking at the lineup at the beginning of the season, we knew we had a chance to be pretty good offensively, but you never know until you come out here. I told the kids after the game: 10 runs, 10 hits, zero errors — you’re going to win a lot of games doing that.”
“They’re on a heck of a roll right now,” New Albany coach Chris McIntyre said of the Highlanders. “Hitting-wise, I can’t imagine there are many teams hitting the ball as well as they are. They’re clearly much further along than we are. We’re very much a work in progress. We’re still trying to figure out who can play where and we’re still making a lot of mistakes.”
After falling behind 7-0, New Albany drew within 7-5 in the bottom of the sixth when Floyd reliever Garrett Ruttle hit Garrett Sherrell with a pitch on an 0-2 pitch with the bases loaded and two outs.
After Sherrell beat the Highlanders with a bases-clearing double a year ago, LaDuke was almost happy to see Ruttle hit the New Albany star with the bases loaded, even if it did bring home a run and put the tying run at second base.
“I had some bad memories from last year,” LaDuke recalled. “Actually, when he did get hit, I said I think I’d rather do that than give up a triple or even a home run. I home run would have given them the lead.”
After hitting Sherrell, Ruttle battled with A.J. Nixon to a full count. On the 3-2 pitch, Nixon wasn unable to catch up with Ruttle’s high fastball and the Highalnders were out of the jam.
“Garrett’s been doing that,” LaDuke said of the senior, who was cut after his sophomore season. “I wasn’t sure how much he was going to pitch this year and he’s been coming out of the bullpen this early part of the year and been doing great.”
“After being down 7-0, we had the tying run on second base, so it was a good comeback by our guys,” McIntyre said.
Floyd countered with three runs in the top of the seventh for a 10-5 advantage, thanks to a Trey Fulton and Brandon Smith singles, two hit batters and two walks. Ruttle then got the Bulldogs out 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh to secure the victory.
Floyd jumped on top with a single run on the first when Derek DeSpain walked and later scored on a Colton Kimm sacrifice fly.
The Highlanders then seized control with three runs in each of the next two innings.
An error and a Mike Springer walk opened the door for a Conor Curry two-RBI double off the base of the center-field fence. One batter later, DeSpain singled to drive home Curry.
Kimm led off the third with a double and scored on a Fulton RBI single. Sherrell — New Albany’s starting pitcher — appeared to be out of the inning when Smith grounded to Matt Speer at third. However, Speer’s throw pulled Johnson off of the bag at first base. Fulton raced around third base and Johnson’s throw got away from Bulldog catcher Timmie Redford. Smith, who went to second on the throw home, then came home on a Mike Springer RBI double that made it 7-0.
“Garrett was behind hitters,” McIntyre said of his starting pitcher. “Good hitting teams are going to make pitchers pay when they get behind 2-0.”
New Albany got on the board in the third. After Highlander starter Kyle Beach struck out Jarius McClure to open the inning, Beach walked Tucker Marcum, Jack Shine doubled and Logan Striegel drew a walk to load the bases.
Sherrell drove home two of the Bulldog baserunners with a line drive off of the right-center fence. Striegel, who went to third on Sherrell’s double, scored on a Nixon groundout and Beach got out of trouble when he got Shane Robison to bounce to Kimm at third base.
Curry reached base four times and drove in three runs for the Highlanders. Kimm went 2 for 3 with a run and an RBI, Fulton was 2 for 4, scored twice and knocked in one, and Kyle Neafus and Smith scored two runs apiece.
Sherrell was the only Bulldogs with multiple hits, going 2 for 2 and knocking in three of New Albany’s five runs.