NEW ALBANY — New Albany's Steven Thom redeemed himself — in a big way — Tuesday night.
After an early miscue by Thom came back to bite the Bulldogs, the senior sent himself and his classmates home in style — with a walk-off win. Thom's two-out, RBI-double in the bottom of the ninth lifted New Albany to an 11-10 win over Silver Creek at Mount Tabor.
"It was just a rush," Thom said afterward. "We got one runner on from a walk, we just needed an extra-base hit to get the run in. That's what I was aiming for, and that's what I got. I was just trying to move the runner and I ended up scoring him."
Thom's game-winner capped a wild back-and-forth affair that featured 28 hits — 12 for extra bases — in a matchup between two teams ranked ninth in their respective classes (the Bulldogs in 4A, the Dragons in 3A) in the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association polls.
"It wasn't the best-played game that you'll ever see," New Albany coach Chris McIntyre said. "It was true offense. We made so many mistakes defensively, but Cody [Medley] made enough pitches there towards the end of the game to give us a chance. But, gosh, did we make a lot of bad plays in this game."
One of the most glaring came with two outs in the top of the fourth, with the Bulldogs leading 2-0, when Thom misplayed a foul pop-up. Not long after the inning-extending error, Tyler Kapust hit a grand slam to give Silver Creek a 4-2 lead.
The Dragons led 7-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh before the Bulldogs rallied to tie it up and send the game to extra frames.
Silver Creek sophomore Holden Groher led off the eighth with a home run — his third in two days — over the right-field fence. The Dragons tallied two times later in the inning on Gabe Falcone's single up the middle.
New Albany, however, answered once again. Cooper Biven led off the bottom of the inning with a single to left before Thom doubled him home. Kaden Elliott and Dylan Clark followed with singles, the latter making it 10-9, before Medley's sacrifice fly tied it up once again.
In the top of the ninth, Groher had a two-out single before Medley struck out Kapust.
In the bottom of the inning, Biven drew a two-out walk to bring up Thom. The lefty poked a Jack Hawkins pitch into the left field corner to score Biven.
"The best thing about it was he took an outside pitch and drove it to the opposite field," McIntyre said. "Sometimes he wants to yank pitches, pull off balls, but that was really the only way he was going to hit that one. He hit it down the line, it had that topspin, it went down in the corner and just went away from the left fielder."
It capped a huge night for Thom, who finished 4-for-6 at the plate with a trio of triples.
"That's a good way to end the game on your Senior Night, especially after I dropped the foul ball and the next batter hit a grand slam — I had to make up for it," he said. "On Senior Night, that's the best thing you can do."
Fellow senior Clark added three hits, including two doubles, as did Elliott, for the Bulldogs (20-6), who pounded out 18 hits — including eight doubles.
Groher and Kapust led the Dragons (18-6) at the plate with three hits apiece.
"I told our guys, 'Those kind of games are what we need right before sectional,'" Silver Creek coach Joe Decker said. "It's not like we gave it away, they flat hit. ... I thought we played well. We responded well when they came back in the seventh. It's a great game for us to get ready for sectional, especially since we have three starters not playing because they're hurt. It was good to see our guys that don't play a lot step up and play well."
The Dragons started the game without shortstop Tyler Wheeler (quad injury) and centerfielder Elijah Bays (concussion protocol), then lost second baseman Dominic Decker, the coach's son, early in the game with a hamstring injury. Decker expects the latter two to be back by next week's sectional, but is uncertain about Wheeler.