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Highlanders shut out New Albany

Class 4A Baseball Sectional Semi-Finals
Highlanders shut out New Albany
Highlanders shut out New Albany
Floyd Central’s Caleb Slaughter, left, waits for New Albany’s Landon Tiesing to make the tag in the top of the sixth inning of the Floyd Central sectional first round. Photo by Wade Bell
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer

The Floyd Central Highlanders moved themselves into the championship round of the Floyd Central baseball sectional Saturday, May 29, shutting out their county rival, the New Albany Bulldogs, by a 1-0 decision on a Graduation Day win. A combination of both solid pitching by Bishop Letson and defense by the Highlanders sent Floyd Central into the championship game against the Jeffersonville Red Devils, who disposed of Bedford North Lawrence.

“The pitchers, first of all, did their jobs,” said Floyd Central coach Casey LaDuke. “They were good enough to get out of some jams. I’m just lucky enough to have some players, seniors like Caleb (Slaughter) and Tristan (Polk) and Evan (Goforth) and Casey (Sorg) around the infield. They know what the heck is going on … they’re just ball players. They work hard during the off-season and they’ve played a lot of ball, and that’s where it pays off.

“The coaches, we do a lot of stuff out here, but there’s some stuff where the kids have got to make the decisions and make the plays,” he said. “All that playing experience, all they do in the off-season, that’s where it comes in.”

Floyd Central got out of its first jam in the top of the first when the Bulldogs put two runners on base and threatened to score. Letson struck out Landon Caswell, however, to end the threat, leaving the base runners stranded. The Highlanders got a base runner on in the bottom of the inning but also failed to convert, leaving the score at 0-0.

New Albany’s threat of a big inning came in the top of the second. Garret Jones singled then was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mitchell Meyer. Liam McCauley followed with a single, and James Gill walked, loading the bases. Floyd Central then pulled its first big defensive play when Kaden Elliott hit into a double play, ending the inning and the threat.

Both teams went three up and out in their next at bats. In the bottom of the third, the Highlanders got on the board. Ty Becker singled to start the at-bat. Bailey Taylor was called out on a third-strike bunt tip, then Jake Thompson struck out. Goforth then hit a long single, scoring Becker, and Floyd Central had the 1-0 lead.

New Albany threatened to score in both the fifth and sixth innings, but Letson and catcher Slaughter were on their games, picking off two Bulldogs who stretched a little too far off base. The Bulldogs put together another big scoring threat in the top of the seventh. Polk walked Elliott to start the inning but was forced out when Landon Tiesing hit into a fielder’s choice. Biven Tucker followed with a single. Andrew Clements also singled to a waiting Max Tripure in right field.

Tiesing broke for home to tie the score. Tripure fired a rocket from right field to Slaughter. The throw was a strike, and Tiesing had no chance with Slaughter making the tag. Caswell flied out to centerfield, and the Highlanders had the 1-0 win.

“I finally got the chance to throw somebody out at home,” said a smiling Tripure. “I’ve never had the chance to do that. I took advantage of it and made a good throw.”

“There’s so many plays,” LaDuke said of his team’s defense. “New Albany did a great job putting pressure on us. Just all of the picks on the bases, all of those are great plays … Anytime you win in the sectional it’s a big win. I don’t care if it’s graduation day or not, especially the atmosphere here. It was great.”

Floyd Central finished with seven hits for the day, Goforth hitting three singles for the Highlanders. Letson struck out five Bulldogs, walked two and hit three New Albany batters. Polk had the one walk in relief in the top of the seventh. Floyd Central had two errors and left five runners on base.

“He’s been there all year for us, or at least half the year because we didn’t play him a whole lot ’til then,” LaDuke said of Letson. “He’s been doing great. (Polk’s) just a battler. He’s a senior. He’s a football player. He wanted the ball. We weren’t sure what to do there at the end, and he wanted the ball.”

New Albany had six hits for the day, McCauley hitting on twice. Biven finished with nine strikeouts from the mound with no walks. The Bulldogs had no errors but left 11 runners on base.

“We’ve just got to enjoy this,” LaDuke said. “I’ll watch the next game and get some scouting reports on Bedford and Jeff. We’ve seen them before but the third time is always nice to see, so we’ll just take it in and watch them a little bit and enjoy it, enjoy it Sunday, and Monday come back out ready to go.”

New Albany                000   000   0 – 0   7   0

Floyd Central              001   000   X – 1   6   2

W-Letson, L-Biven; 1B-Elliott (NA), Goforth (FC) 3, Jones (NA), McCauley (NA) 2, Becker (FC), Meyer (NA), Hogan (FC), Thompson (FC), Biven (NA), Meyer (NA).