WESTFIELD — New Albany suffered its first loss at the Great Lakes Region tournament, 14-2 in four innings at the hands of Grosse Pointe Woods-Shore on Wednesday at Grand Park in Westfield.
The loss puts the Indiana state champions on the edge of elimination. However, New Albany coach Brian Jackson reminded his players after the defeat that they're still two wins away from the Little League World Series.
"I have confidence we're going to bounce right back," he said. "We cashed in our insurance policy and we don't have another one."
New Albany will face either St. Matthews (Ky.) or New Albany (Ohio) in Friday's regional semifinal at 5 p.m. with the winner getting Gross Pointe in Saturday's Great Lakes Regional championship.
New Albany has already beaten both teams and it's a similar scenario to its state championship run. New Albany lost to Evansville Highland to fall into the elimination bracket at the state finals. After beating Munster in the semifinal, New Albany drilled Highland 7-1 to win its fourth state title in five years.
"We just have to get back to what we do," Jackson said.
Maxwell Alexander opened Wednesday's game with a single into left field. It was New Albany's only hit of the game. Meanwhile, the defending regional champions scored three times on three hits in its half of the first frame.
New Albany took advantage of three consecutive walks by Grosse Pointe starter Ryan Knaebel to start the second inning. With one out, Brian Wall noticed that the Michigan third baseman wasn't covering the base and broke for the bag. The attempt to throw out Wall sailed into left field and he scurried home with New Albany's first run. Later, Blaine Hamilton scored on a wild pitch to cut the deficit to 3-2. However, Cole Huett was stranded at second base when reliever Brennan Hill struck out Alexander and Luke Kruer.
"We werere trying to squeeze out a couple of runs there and tie the game," Jackson said. "We didn't, and to be honest, that run wouldn't have meant a lot at the end of the day."
For the second inning in a row, the top of Grosse Pointe's lineup — Reggie Sharpe, Jarren Purify and Knaebel — produced runs. This time, it scored twice to take a 5-2 lead after two innings.
The wheels fell off in the third when Michigan scored nine times on five hits. New Albany committed four errors in the inning — as many as it had through its first 11 games. Jackson believed there were "eight or nine" plays his team would typically make that it didn't Wednesday.
"We got down and we started pressing," he said. "That's what happens when 12-year-olds start pressing."
After the four errors, Purify and Knaebel came through again with RBI triples. Oliver Service, who earlier had an RBI double in the first inning, hit Grosse Pointe's third triple of the inning to make it 13-2. He scored on a sacrifice fly to complete the scoring.
"If you look back, a lot of those hits, we shouldn't have been [on defense]," Jackson said. "We should have gotten three outs and gotten off the field."
GREAT LAKES REGION
WINNERS' BRACKET FINAL
GROSSE POINTE (MICH.) 14, NEW ALBANY 2
New Albany 020 0— 2 1 4
Grosse Pointe 329 x—14 11 2
W — Brennan Hill. L — Chase Loesch. 2B — Jaren Purify (G), Oliver Service (G). 3B — Purify (G), Ryan Knoebel (G), Service (G).
Records — New Albany 2-1, Grosse Pointe 3-0.
GREAT LAKES REGION
At Westfield, Grand Park Sports Complex
Sunday, Aug. 5
Grosse Pointe Woods-Shore (Mich.) 7, Tri-Cities (Ill.) 2
New Albany (Ind.) 6, St. Matthews (Ky.) 1
WINNERS' BRACKET SEMIFINALS
Monday, Aug. 6
Grosse Pointe (Mich.) 12, Wausau (Wis.) 2
New Albany (Ind.) 8, New Albany (Ohio) 5
ELIMINATION BRACKET QUARTERFINALS
Tuesday, Aug. 7
New Albany (Ohio) 4, Tri-Cities (Ill.) 0 (Tri-Cities eliminated)
St. Matthews (Ky.) 2, Wausau (Wis.) 1 (Wausau eliminated)
WINNERS' BRACKET FINAL
Wednesday, Aug. 8
Grosse Pointe (Mich.) 14, New Albany (Ind.) 1
ELIMINATION BRACKET SEMIFINAL
Thursday, Aug. 9
St. Matthews (Ky.) vs. New Albany (Ohio), 5 p.m.
ELIMINATION BRACKET FINAL
Friday, Aug. 10
New Albany (Ind.) vs. St. Matthews (Ky.) or New Albany (Ohio), 5 p.m.
GREAT LAKES CHAMPIONSHIP
Saturday, Aug. 11
Grosse Pointe (Mich.) vs. New Albany (Ind.), St. Matthews (Ky.) or New Albany (Ohio), 5 p.m. (winning team advances to Little League World Series)