By KEVIN HARRIS
NEW ALBANY – Jeffersonville advanced to Friday’s Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament championship game Wednesday at Mt. Tabor Field by rolling past rival New Albany 12-5.
The Red Devils (11-8), who are the defending HHC Tournament champions, will play at Class 4A No. 5 Bedford North Lawrence (17-2) in the Hoosier Hills final at 6 p.m. Friday. The Bulldogs (10-7) will travel to Columbus East (12-5) at 5:30 p.m. Friday for the HHC third-place contest. New Albany had its winning streak end at six games.
The Jeff player who played a big role in Wednesday’s victory was Ethan English.
The junior went 2-for-5 with a double, a home run, four RBIs and two runs scored. English’s homer was a two-run blast in the top of the first inning to put the Red Devils up 2-0.
English earned the victory on the mound in relief. He relieved starter Gabe Bierman, who was battling an illness Wednesday, in the bottom of the third inning. English proceeded to pitch 4 1/3 innings of scoreless and hitless ball. He struck out seven and walked two.
Another Red Devil who had a huge night at the plate was Jack Ellis. The sophomore was 3-for-5 with a pair of homers, four RBIs and three runs scored. He also had a stolen base.
Ellis’ two homers were a solo shot in the top of the third to put Jeff up 4-3 and a two-run homer in a three-run seventh inning.
Also for the Red Devils, Drew Taylor came home three times, Mike Minton scored twice and Bennie Day had two RBIs. In his 2 2/3 innings of work, Bierman allowed five runs (four earned) on three hits and five walks.
“It was a great team win,” Jeff head coach Derek Ellis said. “Gabe was a little under the weather and didn’t pitch well. But Ethan English came in and did a great job. English and (Jack) Ellis provided the power and Taylor, Minton, Day and (Hunter) Schmitz swung it well tonight.”
Despite scoring five runs, all coming in the first three innings, the Bulldogs managed only three hits. Chase Rudy collected a two-run single in the bottom of the first to deadlock the score at two. Jacob Mullins had an RBI double and Steven Thom smacked an RBI base hit.
New Albany reliever Owen Tanksley got the loss. Replacing Bulldog starter Logan Charbonneau to start the fourth, Tanksley threw two innings as he surrendered two runs (both earned) on three hits. He walked one and struck out one.
In his three innings, Charbonneau gave up five runs (all earned) on five hits with three walks and one strikeout.
Wednesday’s game was the second of three meetings between the two longtime rivals this season. New Albany defeated Jeff on April 19 at Don Poole Field 3-1. The Bulldogs and Red Devils will square off in the Class 4A BNL Sectional later this month.
JEFFERSONVILLE 12, NEW ALBANY 5
Jeff 212 202 3-12 10 1
New Albany 212 000 0- 5 3 1
W – Ethan English. L – Owen Tanksley. 2B – Drew Taylor (J), English (J), Mike Minton (J), Bennie Day (J), Jacob Mullins (NA). HR – English (J), Jack Ellis 2 (J).
Records – Jeff 11-8, New Albany 10-7.