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Mental mistakes were costly for the Floyd Central Highlanders against Jeffersonville, including this base running mistake by Jon VanBuren, center, getting caught in a rundown and tagged by John Jacobs. Photo by Wade Bell

Jeff hands Floyd first loss

April 15, 2009
Both the full moon and Jeffersonville baseball team came crashing down on the Floyd Central Highlanders last Tuesday night as the Red Devils handed Floyd its first loss in four games. It was a lopsided affair with the Highlanders on the receiving end of a 12-1 clobbering.

"They're a good team," Floyd coach Casey LaDuke said. "They've got guys that's been starting varsity ball since they were freshmen. They've got the experience. I don't care if they're 1-2, they can play and everybody knows they can play."

"We've got some kids capable of playing, but we've got some young kids just trying to gain that experience," he said. "The good news is it's early in the season and we'll see them again, hopefully. At that time, we'll be more experienced."

Jeff wasted no time getting on the board, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. Floyd got one of those back in the bottom of the inning after loading the bases on two walks and a Jefferson error. A second Red Devil error allowed Tyler Amos to score as the Highlanders cut their deficit in half.

Neither team scored in the second, but Jeffersonville then exploded in the top of the third.

The Red Devils quickly loaded the bases, with Mitchell Mattingly hitting on safely and Cody Poole and Sam Burkea walking. That set things up for Neil Fertig, who slapped a grand slam over the right-field fence for a 6-1 lead.

"I don't think it was the grand slam," LaDuke said of his team's spirits getting dampened. "It was the 2-1 game, then you're down 6-1. That's something we've got to learn in the game that's still early, that we've still got to battle."

After Floyd went scoreless again in the bottom of the third, Jeff had a second big inning. Ryan Pierce walked, and Mattingly got his second hit, this time a double. Poole put one over the fence this time, again in right field, and the Red Devil lead ballooned to 9-1.

Jeff got three more runs in the fifth, Floyd came up scoreless again, and the Red Devils had the 12-1 win.

"It shows the kids, 'Hey, we've got stuff to work on,' " LaDuke said. "A few years ago when we were successful and got ranked, I told the kids when things happen like this, people want to play you more and they want to play you harder. You're walking around with a target on your back."

Floyd finished with just a single hit for the night. The Highlanders committed just one error, but left eight runners stranded in the five innings. Hurler Ryan Cain struck out three Red Devil batters and walked five.

"We had some young pitchers going, and what a good team like Jeff will do is, our pitchers struggled with their control a little bit and walked a few hitters, then you're setting yourself up for the grand slams and the home runs," LaDuke said. "That's where we got in trouble. We've just got to work on that and get better."

Jeffersonville finished with 12 hits, led by Mattingly's 4-for-4 effort. Pitcher Nick Politte struck out three and walked four. The Red Devils left four runners on base and made three errors.

"A few years ago, we beat them like this, then they turned around and beat us in the sectional," LaDuke said. "So, it's early and we've just got to improve from our mistakes and move on. Hopefully, the next time we play them things will be a little different and it will be a little more competitive."

"We made some base running errors there at the end," he said. "When you're down a bunch, you can't get aggressive on the bases like that. We've got to have better at-bats. In the first inning there, we're just a base hit away from going up 3-2. Jonathan VanBuren hits a hard line drive at the left fielder there and if that ball is just 10 feet left or right of him, we're 3-2 going into the second. That can change the complex of the game.'"

"I'm not going to fault them," LaDuke said. "We did work hard and we hustled. I like to see that. Even when we were down 12-1 at the end, we had kids battling at the plate. That will pay off in the long run."

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