By GREG MENGELT
NEW ALBANY —
The two heavy favorites in the District 5 13-14-year-old Junior Division easily won on Saturday to set up Monday’s big district championship.
The defending state runner-up Silver Creek squad beat New Albany 11-5 and Jeff/GRC pounded Highlander Youth Recreation 16-2. The two sides will meet at 7 p.m. tonight.
After falling behind 1-0, Silver Creek got even with a run in the bottom of the first then exploded for six runs in the second and never trailed again.
A Michael Feeler RBI bunt single gave Silver Creek the lead for good and an error on the play gave Creek a 3-1 lead. The top of the order then came up and added four more runs to give Feeler a cushion on the mound.
“That was big,” Creek coach Jeff Hawn said. “That got us going.”
Feeler was the winning pitcher, going three innings and surrendering just one run on four hits.
Justin Brown went 2-for-2 with two doubles, a walk and he was hit by a pitch for Silver Creek. He scored twice. Jacob Balz, who went 3-for-4, also scored twice for Creek.
“We finally started hitting the solid today,” Hawn said. “And our defense was excellent. We’re happy with the way things turned out today.”
Jeff/GRC pulled away late with 12 runs in the sixth inning for a 16-2 win over HYR.
Austin Hall pitched a complete game, giving five hits while striking out five and walking just two HYR batters. Up 3-1 in the third, Hall pitched out of a bases loaded jam to keep Jeff in front.
“Every time he got in trouble, he found a way to make the right pitch at the right time,” Jeff manager Rob Harbeson said.
Cam Northern had two hits and knocked in two runs for Jeff. Robert Woods came off the Jeff bench and scored three times and had a two-RBI single in the sixth.
“He was a big spark,” Harbeson said. “Our bench was huge for us tonight.”
After breezing through district play a year ago, Silver Creek made it to the state championship game at Wabash as 13-year-olds. Hawn knows getting to the state finals, which will be held at Portage beginning July 25, will not be as easy in 2013.
“We know it’s going to be really, really tough,” Hawn said of beating Jeff. “We’re confident, but we know [Jeff will provide] much tougher competition than last year.”
Silver Creek beat Jeff 5-3 in pool play on Wednesday.
“We’re ready to go,” Harbeson said. “I feel like our team is starting to come together, starting to trust each other.”
• HYR closes with second win: After starting 0-2, HYR finished third in the 10-11 standings following two straight victories, including a 12-0 triumph over Clarksville on Saturday.
HYR scored three runs in the opening frame and added a third run for a 3-0 lead after two innings. It then put Clarksville away by sending 13 batters to the plate for eight runs in the third. Chase Davis hit a two-RBI double off the fence in the third.
Dave went 3-for-3 and scored three times. Caleb Kimm and Adam Spalding each went 2-for-2 and had two RBIs. Spalding also scored twice. Just Bailey had a hit, was hit by a pitch and scored a run.
• New Albany drops first game at state: On Saturday, defending state runner-up South Bend South East handed New Albany its first loss of the tournament, 14-9.
Bre Schoenfeld went 2-for-4 with three runs and three RBIs in the loss. Camri Thomas and Erin Bell also went 2-for-4. Thomas knocked in three runs and Bell added an RBI for New Albany.
New Albany continues pool play today against Bedford at 2 p.m. On Monday, it will face Anderson Riverfield in its final pool play contest before the semifinals and the championship on Tuesday.