“Both teams hit some balls, but their outfield made a lot of catches,” said Floyd Central manager Casey LaDuke. “They took two or three hits away from us. They struggled with their control a little bit, and sometimes when the walks add up it takes hitting opportunities away from you. I told the guys we may not have had our best offensive performance, but we pitched and played defense and put a little pressure on them and it paid off.”
The Highlanders improved to 19-3 this season. The Panthers, who lost their second game at Floyd Central this season, fell to 9-8.
The game started as a pitcher’s duel between lefties Philip Archer of Floyd Central and Steven Miller of Jennings County. Miller survived the first three errors behind him unscathed and had a no-hitter going into the fifth inning.
Archer, meanwhile, stranded a leadoff walk in the first and surrendered a leadoff single in the second inning that was erased by a double play. In the third, the Panthers got to him. With two outs Sam Miller singled to center and with Avery Johnson batting took third on a pickoff attempt by Archer gone awry. Johnson promptly doubled down the right field line, the only extra base hit of the game, to score Miller.
Enter Brandon Smith, who relieved Archer to start the fourth inning and did nothing but put up zeroes until his team could manufacture something. Smith faced 12 hitters. He induced 12 outs.
“I had to go out there and pitch my best,” said Smith. “It’s what my team needed me to do. When you only have one hit and it’s a bunt it’s kind of tough, but somehow we found a way and got it done.”
The decisive home half of the fifth inning began when with one out Aiden Cora walked, the first of five free passes in the inning. Trey Fulton walked. Then Austin Newell bunt singled and the bases were loaded for Colton Kimm.
Kimm walked to tie the game. Then Fulton scored on a wild pitch to give Floyd Central its first lead. Kyle Beach, who narrowly missed a two-run homer his previous at-bat, hit a sacrifice fly to deep left center for the third run. Finally, pinch runner Kendall Lafayette scored on an Evan Jewell walk for the final margin.
LaDuke, whose team plays the winner of Jeffersonville and Columbus East on Friday, said he likes where his team is at this point of the season.
”We’ve been playing well all year,” he said. “Our focus now is on this conference tournament, and then we’ll get ready for sectionals. One game at a time. We’ve got some business to take care of on Friday.”
Jennings County 001 000 0 – 1 3 4
Floyd Central 000 040 x – 4 1 1
WP – Smith. LP – St. Miller. 2B – Johnson (JC). SB – Fulton (FC).