Owls fall to Stars in HHC tourney opener

Bedford North Lawrence scored five runs in the top of the fourth inning, and had runs in four other innings, to top Seymour 10-5 in the opening round of the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament at American Legion Field Monday afternoon.

Seymour (9-7) will host Scottsburg in a non-conference game today before traveling to Jennings County for a HHC consolation bracket game Wednesday. The Panthers lost 2-0 to New Albany Monday.

The Owls got off to a great start with three runs in the bottom of the first inning.

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R.J. Kleber singled and Takumi Nishiwaki walked. Following a fly out, Jake Roberts stepped into the batters box and liked the first pitch he saw: sending it over the fence in left-center field for his ninth home run of the season.

Jayden Brown held the Stars scoreless in the first two inning before allowing a pair of hits that produced a run in the third.

The visitors then sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth and combined three hits, two walks and two hit batsmen to take a 6-3 lead.

“That one inning got us,” Owls Coach Jeremy Richey said. “There were a few things here or there that created that. We just have to learn to get through that and to stop the damage. They get up 4-3 and we hit a guy (with bases loaded) and it becomes a bigger inning and we just have to learn to limit that damage and give ourselves a chance because it kept growing.

“We’re going to get (Brown) there. He’s going to get better. We’ve got to get him some confidence, we’ve got to get him throwing with purpose and with some more command early on so we can get him later in the game.”

The Stars added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings and two runs in the seventh off two relief pitches to lead 10-3.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Chase Miles was hit by a pitch. Kleber singled and Nishiwaki walked. Devin Hill hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Miles, and Kleber scored on an error.

The Owls had seven hits with Kleber, Nishiwaki and Roberts getting two each.

The Owls hit into double plays in the fifth and sixth innings with third baseman Dalton Nikirk fielding ground balls to start both twin killings.

“To their credit, they made plays when they needed to,” Richey said. “They made some big defensive plays. They made us hit the ball, they made us get hits, they didn’t walk very (five) many. They didn’t make any errors.

“I think we battled pretty well. They threw their guy (Garrett Watson). We were competitive with him. We got ahead early. That is something we’ve not done much lately. We’ve not been ahead so we’ve got to learn to play when we’re ahead, and then an error gives up a run and makes that a little bit bigger gap.

“The good thing is we found a way to get ahead early. We’ve got to learn to finish. I told the guys I think we’ve played two or three complete games. We just have not put complete games together and we’ve got to find that the next couple weeks. We can’t win a sectional game not playing seven good innings.”

The top four batters in BNL’s line up combined for seven hits and had two RBIs each.