“You kind of figured it was going to be a close one,” said Jeffersonville head coach Derek Ellis. “When we got the three runs in one inning I was hoping that was going to be enough.
“Our pitchers have had a tendency to let them back in the ball game. That’s been the story from the beginning. We can’t seem to close one out easily. It’s nerve racking.”
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The home team struck first with two runs in the bottom of the second inning. Jared Burke and Casey Gibson led off with singles, a Nolan Fertig walk loaded the bases, and winning pitcher Ian Ellis helped his own cause with a single to left that scored Burke and Gibson.
New Albany cut the lead in half in the top of the fourth. Chase Rudy and Tanner Robinson walked (two of seven surrendered by Ellis in five innings), and Timmie Redford singled home Rudy. Robinson was out at home trying to tie it on the play.
The Bulldogs tied it in the top of the fifth when Justin Striegel walked, stole second, then scored on a Joey Collins single to center. The Red Devils avoided further damage when Drew Campbell made the play of the game, catching a deep drive over his head in center field off the bat of A.J. Nixon.
“If the ball is hit in the air anywhere in center field, Drew usually catches it,” said Ellis.
The Red Devils wasted no time answering. They plated three in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Jeremiah Phelps reached on a fielder’s choice, then stole second. Joe Burke walked then Jared Burke singled Phelps home, Casey Gibson then delivered the hit of the game, a double off the wall in left field to score both Burke brothers for a 5-2 lead.
But the last two innings were anything but easy for the Red Devils. Phelps relieved Ellis and allowed two runs in the top of the sixth and put runners on second and third with two walks and a wild pitch, but came through by inducing a grounder to second off the bat of Nixon.