BY GREG BURTON
Special to Southern Indiana Preps
JEFFERSONVILLE — Class 4A No. 1 New Albany entered the state tournament with high expectations, as it should have.
Expectations are meaningless when it comes to reality, however.
In the first round of the Class 4A Jeffersonville Sectional at Don Poole Field, the Bulldogs opened play against fellow Hoosier Hills Conference foe Seymour. New Albany was obviously the favorite.
However, New Albany also experienced the old sports adage of, "If you let an underdog team hang around long enough, there's an increasing chance they will beat you the closer it gets to the end."
That is exactly what happened Wednesday night, as Seymour scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning and came away with the huge upset. The Owls won the game 3-2, finishing New Albany's season at 24-5.
“We had a great year. In this one-and-done tournament system, one bad play, one bad hit, can make a difference," said New Albany coach Chris McIntyre.
The game proceeded on its way through a scoreless four innings, with Seymour pitcher Alan Perry and New Albany pitcher Chase Rudy dominating from the mound.
Perry threw a complete game, allowing nine hits, striking out seven and walking three batters. He gave up two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, both earned.
Rudy seemed to be the more dominant of the pair. He went 6 2/3 innings, striking out 14, giving up just five hits, all three runs (two earned) and walking five.
New Albany got on the board first, plating a pair in the bottom of the fifth inning. Owen Tanksley led off with a single to get the action going. Andrew Ricketts sacrificed Tanksley to second base. After a passed ball move Tanksley to third, Steven Thom singled him home for the first run, making it 1-0 Bulldogs.
Rudy followed with a single. Cooper Biven also singled, driving in Thom. The Bulldogs led 2-0, and it appeared as if that advantage was going to stand up.
Seymour (16-9) began its seventh inning rally from the start. Matthew Moore singled, followed by a walk to pinch hitter Devil Hill. A big play immediately followed, as R.J. Kleber bunted to move the runners forward. On the play, however, Rudy mishandled the ball, and all hands were safe, loading the bases.
"I thought the big one was when they got the leadoff on, and we walked the next guy," said McIntyre. "That was one of the bigger at-bats in the inning. Then we didn't handle the bunt. Chase just got in a hurry. He just took his eyes off the ball.
"Chase was pitching fine. You've got to give their guys (Seymour) credit. At first, their swings were a little long. But then they shortened their swings up just to get the ball in play in the seventh inning."
Perry grounded to third, and the Bulldogs got a force play at home, leaving the bases full.
Then, senior A.J. Boshears stepped to the plate and smacked a base hit down the line into left, scoring two runs and tying the game.
After a strikeout left runners on first and second with two outs, Michael Knecht came to bat for the Owls. The right fielder had struck out in his three times previously. This time, however, he knocked a ball to center, scoring Perry and making the score 3-2 in favor of Seymour.
New Albany staged a rally in the bottom of the seventh. Rudy got things going with a one-out single. Biven tagged a ball to left, but it was playable, making the second out.
Jonah Boone got an infield single, putting runners on first and second. After a passed ball, Ryan Robison, one of New Albany's most powerful hitters, was intentionally walked to load the bases.
The game ended, though, when Dylan Clark lifted a fly ball to center field, which was easily handled by Boshears.
"We gave ourselves an opportunity in the seventh," said McIntyre. "They had a passed ball, and it would have been better if we hadn't run. But it's instinct, you just go.
"We had some good at-bats the last inning. Cooper hit the ball real well to left field. Just missed it a little."
Perry run his record to 9-1 with the victory, while Rudy ended the season at 5-4.
"They (Seymour) are a much different team when (Perry) is on the mound," said McIntyre. "Their team plays with much more confidence when he's pitching. He kept the fastball away. He's going to throw the curve ball at any count. He's a true pitcher. He's not going to blow you away with the fastball. He's going to pitch it where he needs to."
Seymour will play Bedford North Lawrence in the first semifinal on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. The Stars defeated Floyd Central in Wednesday’s second first-round game, 8-3.
Saturday’s second semifinal will pit Class 4A No. 6 Jeff against Jennings County at approximately 3 p.m. The championship game will be at 1 p.m. Monday.
CLASS 4A JEFFERSONVILLE SECTIONAL
SEYMOUR 3, NEW ALBANY 2
Seymour 000 000 3—3 5 1
New Albany 000 020 0—2 9 2
W — Alan Perry (9-1). L — Chase Rudy (5-4).
Records: Seymour 16-9, New Albany 24-5.
Multiple hit players: New Albany — Dylan Clark 2-4, Chase Rudy 2-3.
Perry pitching line: 7 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 7 K, 3 BB.
Rudy pitching line: 6 2/3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 14 K, 5 BB.