BY ADAM PRUEITT
They say patience is a virtue.
New Albany’s 9-10-year-old All-Stars might beg to differ.
Ready and raring to go Friday evening in the Minor Baseball State Tournament, New Albany didn’t waste any time building a big lead against Auburn, scoring four runs in the top half of the first inning and riding customarily terrific pitching en route to a 10-0 victory in four innings at Jeff/GRC Little League.
Perfect after two games, New Albany will meet Terre Haute North at 3 p.m. today in the winner’s bracket for a chance to play in Tuesday’s tournament semifinals. Terre Haute North defeated Indianapolis Havorford 13-3 on Friday.
New Albany has outscored its opponents 28-0 over the tournament’s first two games. Led by Josh Castleman, who had a two-run triple and solo homer, the two-time defending state champions collected six hits and four walks in the four-inning win on Friday.
“We have a very potent lineup. It’s just that simple,” New Albany manager Josh Biven said. “Right now we’re just clicking. We’re hitting. We haven’t had a pitcher overpower us yet. I don’t know if that can happen with the lineup we’ve got.”
Tucker Biven, Nick Sexton, Mitchell Meyer and Hunter Sprigler combined to toss a two-hitter for New Albany. Tucker Biven started on the mound and set down the first four hitters to set the tone before departing.
“I was just hoping to throw strikes and get them out,” Tucker Biven said.
The New Albany foursome teamed up for four strikeouts and no walks. Kaden Greer and Nolan Nack both singled in accounting for Auburn’s two hits.
“Our pitching has been just dominant,” Josh Biven said. “We’re hitting our spots. They’re dialed in just like the hitters are.”
“Our pitching is really working,” Castleman said. “We’re throwing a lot of strikes and our fielding is not letting them score.”
New Albany tallied three triples over the first three innings and raced out to a 4-0 lead in the first.
Castleman and teammate David Newbanks both rifled balls through the infield that scooted to the wall. Castleman’s triple brought in Tucker Biven and Austin Oppel, and Newbanks followed his triple by scoring on a wild pitch.
New Albany boosted its lead to 9-0 with a five-run third inning. Newbanks again played a key role with an RBI single and Jameson Miller Embry added a run-scoring triple. Three walks and a hit batter helped the advantage swell.
Castleman capped New Albany’s scoring in style when he led off the fourth inning by launching a solo home run to dead center field. He knew the ball was going to leave the ballpark.
“I just went down and got the low pitch and hit,” Castleman said. “It felt good.”
Castleman reached base in all three plate appearances and finished 2-for-2 with three RBIs. Newbanks also had two hits for New Albany, while Miller Embry and Sexton had one apiece.
Josh Biven expects a competitive contest against Terre Haute North.
“They want us, we want them,” he said. “It’s going to be a battle.”
NEW ALBANY OPENS WITH 18-0 WIN OVER NEW CASTLE
New Albany’s 9-10-year-old All-Stars opened the state tournament at Jeff/GRC Little League with an 18-0 win over New Castle on Thursday.
New Albany had 10 hits and took advantage of eight New Castle errors in the win.
“We came out and put a couple of balls in play and they didn’t make plays,” Josh Biven said. “We played a little small ball and we had a couple of big hits.”
Castleman, Sexton and Ray Reisinger combined on a one-hit shutout for New Albany. The only New Castle hit was leadoff hitter Cole McDaniel, who barely beat out an infield single as the first batter of the game. Reisinger, Castleman and Sexton combined to strike out seven and allowed just four baserunners.
“Ray’s been our go-to guy,” Josh Biven said. “Josh threw well and Nick Sexton threw strikes. It was a big win against a New Castle program with a lot of history.”
After a scoreless first inning, four New Castle errors led to four New Albany runs in the second. Castleman also had an RBI double — New Albany’s only extra-base hit — in the inning.
New Albany tacked on four more in the third. In the third, New Albany had two hits, including an Oppel RBI single, drew two walks and New Castle had two more errors.
Leading 8-0 after three innings, New Albany put the game away in the fourth with 10 more runs. Miller-Embry hit a two-RBI single to make it 10-0. Sexton and Tucker Biven followed with bases-loaded walks, Castleman hit another RBI single and Reisinger brought home another run with a single. Newbanks was hit with a pitch, and then two more errors produced two more New Albany runs.
Sports Editor Greg Mengelt contributed to this story.