By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
NEW ALBANY – If you were to look at New Albany’s baseball roster compared to last season, the contrast would be unmistakable.
Gone are nine seniors from the Bulldogs’ 2011 team that made it to the Class 4A quarterfinal series, including their leading hitter and 19 of their 21 wins on the mound.
So it’s understandable if some people thought New Albany might struggle this year. That’s fine with Bulldogs’ coach John Walker.
“I hope people do think we’re gonna struggle,” he said. “I would, losing solid arms and solid hitters in the lineup as well.”
But New Albany continues to prove that notion wrong. The Bulldogs improved to 5-1 after their 11-1, 5-inning win over Itawamba AHS on Saturday at Legion Field.
Itawamba took an early 1-0 lead in the first on a RBI fielder’s choice by Rodney Kent and looked to be in position to escape the inning with the lead.
Indians pitcher Ryan Reese (1-1) got Riley Alef to pop up into foul territory. However, Reese lost the ball in the sun and could not make the catch, allowing Alef to step back into the box.
The senior made Itawamba pay, crushing a home run over the left field wall to knock in the first two of 11 straight New Albany runs scored.
The sun continued to wreak havoc on the Indians, affecting two more plays that led to more Bulldog runs. Itawamba (3-3) committed seven errors in the game.
“We’ve just had two bad days in a row,” Indians coach Brian Long said, referring to their Thursday loss to New Hope as well. “We didn’t play with any intensity, no emotion. We’re better than that.”
Bulldog batters gave Ben Foster more than enough of a cushion on the mound. Foster (2-0) tossed a two-hitter, didn’t give up an earned run and struck out eight in the complete game win.
Foster helped himself at the plate with three hits, including an RBI double in the second. Four other Bulldogs had multiple hits.
“It’s one of the better hitting lineups I’ve ever had,” Walker said. “And we’ve got a lot that are ready to step in when they get the opportunity. They like making it hard for me to write out the lineup everyday.”