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Highlanders ice Red Devils

Highlanders ice Red Devils
Highlanders ice Red Devils
Floyd Central’s Caleb Miller slides in for a stolen base in the first inning, beating the tag by Jeffersonville’s Brett Denby. The Highlanders won by a 7-1 decision. Photo by Wade Bell
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer

The Floyd Central boys’ baseball team jumped on the visiting Jeffersonville Red Devils early with the Highlanders allowing just two hits and a single run for a 7-1 Hoosier Hills Conference win.

Like a lot of teams in the region, both the Highlanders and the Red Devils are having to do some rebuilding after the season was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Floyd Central split its first two games of the season before meeting the Red Devils.

“The first game (at Tell City) we lost because I don’t think we had real good approaches at the plate on some of our at-bats where we couldn’t get some runs in,” said Floyd Central coach Casey LaDuke. “So ever since that first loss, we’ve been working on that. We hit it a little bit better Saturday (against South Dearborn) and we continued doing that this week, and there were some times where we were squaring some balls up.”

Jeffersonville blanked out on its first at-bat despite lead-off batter Kannon Stull getting to first on a third strike Floyd Central error. Brett Denby struck out looking at the plate, then Stull got caught stealing by the Floyd Central defense. Max McEwen struck out as well, ending the top of the first.

In the bottom of the inning, the Highlanders hit pay dirt. Jake Thompson ripped a lead-off double, then Evan Goforth smacked a single but got caught in a rundown while thinking about a steal. Pitcher Casey Sorg gave the Highlanders their third straight hit and scored Thompson. Caleb Slaughter flew out to short right field, then Tristan Polk walked. A double-steal put both runners in scoring position, but they didn’t have to hurry. Max Tripure came to the plate and got business done, parking the ball over the left-field fence for a three-run home run and a 4-0 lead.

“When you put up four runs in the first inning, that helps out a lot,” said LaDuke. “It’s all about good starts. I think in any sport if you can score early, if you can put pressure on the other team right away, it makes them press a little bit.”

Neither team scored in the second and third innings.

In the top of the fourth, the Red Devils finally got on the board. Denby walked and stole second to lead off the at-bat. McEwen grounded to third but advanced Denby to third on the play. Xavier Hart grounded out to second but that allowed Denby to cross the plate, shrinking Floyd Central’s lead to 4-1.

In the bottom of the inning, the Highlanders got that one back and added one more. Polk walked but got caught stealing second. Tripure also walked and went to second and third on two passed balls. With Dylan Hogan at the plate, Floyd Central put the squeeze on with Tripure stealing home for a 5-1 lead. Hogan walked as well and stole second. Luke Vick smashed a double to the fence to score Hogan, and the Highlanders inflated their lead to 6-1.

Jeffersonville came up empty in the top of the fifth.

In the bottom of the inning, Floyd Central added to its cushion with another run. Goforth singled and, with one out, Caleb Slaughter walked. Jeffersonville made a pitching change with Alexis Campoy going to the mound. Polk walked, loading the bases. Tripure belted a long sacrifice fly, allowing Goforth to score, and Floyd Central’s lead was 7-1.

Neither team scored in the last inning and a half, and the Highlanders got the 6-run win.

“I’m happy, but we’ve still got some things to work on,” said LaDuke. “We’re getting there. It’s just the third game (of the season).”

The Highlanders finished with six hits for the day, with Goforth and Vick hitting on safely twice. Sorg allowed just one hit in six innings with he and Jake Thompson combining for five strikeouts and three walks. Floyd Central had just one error for the game and left four runners on base.

“Casey didn’t have his stuff tonight, but he battled,” LaDuke said. “In sports, every night you’re not going to have your good stuff. That shows you what kind of player he was. He competed. He gave up one hit, and he only gave up one run. That’s a helluva job with his stuff. He knows he’s better than that, but he worked hard and he did great.”

Jeffersonville had two hits for the seven innings, with Chate Amick getting both of those for the Red Devils. Amick and Campoy combined for one strikeout and six walks for the game. Jeffersonville had no errors and left three runners on base.

“We had that one error, but we made some really good plays,” LaDuke said. “The first game of the year we made some really good plays. We’ve just got to keep working. It’s early, but we like our team and we like our guys but we’ve just got to work hard. Nothing’s given to you. It’s a win and we’ll take it. We’ve got our game tomorrow (against Corydon Central).”

Jeffersonville             000   100   0 – 1   2   0

Floyd Central             400   210   X – 7   6   1

W-Sorg, L-Amick; 1B-Goforth (FC) 2, Sorg (FC), Amick (J), Vick (FC); 2B-Thompson (FC), Vick (FC), Amick (J).