NEW ALBANY —
Entering Monday night’s Class 4A New Albany Sectional final, Jeffersonville and New Albany fans expected a close and competitive game between the two old rivals Monday at Mt. Tabor Field.
One swing of the bat by Red Devil star Drew Ellis changed the whole atmosphere of the contest.
Ellis drilled a solo home run off New Albany starter Brandon Johnson to lead off the bottom of the first inning. From there, Jeff held on to that momentum and cruised to a 7-1 victory over the Class 4A No. 4 Bulldogs.
It was the Red Devils’ third consecutive sectional championship. They will face the Whiteland Sectional champion in the first semifinal of the Class 4A Evansville Reitz Regional on Saturday at historic Bosse Field.
“It’s great to come out with this group of guys and just compete,” Ellis said.
Ellis’ blast came on a 2-0 pitch from Johnson and cleared the left-field fence at Mt. Tabor. Ellis said Johnson threw him a slider.
“I was kind of sitting on it. He threw it and I put a good swing on it,” Ellis explained. “We just want to hop on teams first. Our game plan is once we get ahead is to just keep stepping on the gas and don’t let up.”
Jeffersonville (21-7) tacked on three more runs in the second against Johnson.
After Josh Burke smacked a double to the left-center gap, Hayden Robb launched a double that came off the center-field fence to knock in Ian Ellis from third base.
With one out, designated hitter Jared Burke extended the Red Devils’ lead to 3-0 with an RBI groundout to plate Josh Burke. Drew Ellis then followed with an RBI single to drive in Robb to make the score 4-0.
New Albany (26-5) scored its only run in the top of the fourth. Senior Tucker Marcum started the frame with a single to center off Jeff starter Chandler Dale. Marcum then advanced to second on a throwing error when Matt Sogge hit into a fielder’s choice.
Senior shortstop Jack Shine drove in Marcum from second with a double to deep center, cutting the Bulldogs’ deficit to 4-1.
New Albany produced another scoring threat in the fifth. Designated hitter Tanner Robison led off the inning with an opposite-field single to right.
After Timmie Redford flied out to left, Jarius McClure hit a comebacker to Dale, who threw to second for the force out on Robison.
Marcum put runners on first and second with a single to right, but Sogge could not capitalize as he grounded out to left, ending the Bulldog scoring opportunity.
“We like to play small ball. We like to hit-and-run and steal bases. But when you are down 4-0, you take that part away,” New Albany head coach Chris McIntyre said. “We’re not a team that can slug it out and try to outscore you with our bats.”
The Red Devils put an exclamation point on the win in the bottom of the sixth with three runs.
Robb put Jeff up 5-1 with his second RBI double of the game with one out. Then Joe Burke collected an RBI single to plate Josh Burke and Jared Burke had a sacrifice fly to left to knock in Robb.
In the top of the seventh, New Albany got runners on first and second with two out, but Dale ended the game by striking out Sogge looking, sparking an on-field celebration by the Red Devils.
Drew Ellis was 2-for-2, while Robb and Josh Burke each went 2-for-3.
“I didn’t see us getting seven runs off of Brandon,” Jeff head coach Derek Ellis said. “I was thinking this was going to be a 1-0, 2-1 ballgame. We were going to be aggressive. Our goal was not to get two strikes. We were fortunate to get some good swings off him.”
Dale upped his record to 6-4 in the complete-game victory. The senior right-hander allowed no earned runs on four hits with 10 strikeouts and two walks.
“God was with me. I just came out here and left it all out on the field,” Dale said. “I didn’t want this to be my last game in high school.”
Derek Ellis lauded his No. 1 pitcher’s effort.
“He pitches that way every time he goes out. He gets after it and he challenges you,” the Red Devils’ manager said.
Johnson — a Xavier University signee — fell to 9-2 in getting the loss. The senior righty went the distance, yielding seven hits, three walks and one hit batsman while fanning seven. All seven runs Johnson surrendered were earned.
“Brandon wasn’t sharp with his breaking stuff early in the game, and he got a couple of calls on two-strike pitches that he didn’t get in the second inning,” McIntyre said. “It was a tough night for him.”
Marcum finished his career 2-for-3. New Albany said goodbye to six seniors in Johnson, Marcum, McClure, Shine, Brady Parr and Sheldon Miller-Emby. The seniors won 97 games for the Bulldogs in four years.
“They’ve had a good career,” McIntyre said. “I had more than one coach or people who are associated with baseball think we were not going to be very good this year. This is one of my most satisfying years as a coach because our kids played hard and are good, hard-nosed kids. I’m proud of them.”
CLASS 4A NEW ALBANY SECTIONAL
JEFFERSONVILLE 7, NEW ALBANY 1
New Albany 000 100 0—1 4 0
Jeffersonville 130 003 x—7 7 3
W — Chandler Dale (6-4). L — Brandon Johnson (9-2). 2B — Hayden Robb 2 (J), Josh Burke (J), Jack Shine (N). HR — Drew Ellis (J).
Records — Jeffersonville 21-7, New Albany 26-5.