Owls conclude 2019 season with loss to Highlanders


Floyd Central’s baseball team used a ‘small ball’ style of play to perfection Wednesday night against Seymour.

The Highlanders combined a hit batsman, sacrifice bunt, walk, sacrifice fly and single to score two runs in the fourth inning, and a single, walk, stolen bases, a passed ball, throwing error and a hit batsman to score twice in the seventh inning to blank the Owls 4-0 in the opening round of Sectional 15 at Bedford North Lawrence.

“I’m proud of our kids,” Seymour Coach Jeremy Richey said. “We’ve gotten a lot better. Early in the season I didn’t know who were going to beat and to end up 14-11, and compete like this against Floyd in the sectional, I’m pretty proud of these kids because they bought in and they gave us everything that they had.”

Both starting pitchers, Braden Christopher of Seymour and Max Meyer of Floyd Central, were in complete control through the first three innings.

In the top of the fourth, Joe Harrigan was hit by a pitch, Caleb Kimm walked, Carson Stiller hit a sacrifice fly for the first run, and Blake Barrett singled to make it 2-0.

The Owls went 3 up, 3 down through each of the first three innings, and with one out in the fourth, Takumi Nishiwaki singled over the shortstop for Seymour’s first base runner.

With two outs, Jake Roberts hit a fly ball into short right field, just out of the reach of the first baseman. Nishiwaki easily made it to third base, rounded the bag and was a third of the way to home, but put on the breaks. But his feet slipped on the wet grass and he fell. He was unable to make it back to third and was tagged out.

“I felt good about that inning because I felt like we were getting there,” Richey said. “The next inning we get a guy at second base with nobody out and can’t score a run but that’s what good pitching does. Those guys made no mistakes and they forced us to beat them and unfortunately we couldn’t put enough together offensive to beat them.”

Braden Wilson led off the fifth with a single to center, and later advanced to second on a wild pitch. But an infield fly, fly out to medium left field and a ground out back to the pitcher ended that threat.

After Jayden Brown struck out the leadoff batter in the top of the seventh, Blake Barrett singled, and stole second and third. On the steal of third, the catcher’s throw sailed down the left field line and Barrett scored,

Gross walked and was later forced home on a bases loaded hit batsman.

The Owls went out in order in the sixth and seventh innings, and no Seymour hitter reached base first base more than once.

Seymour was held to the three hits, struck out eight times and didn’t receive any walks.

Richey was impressed by Meyer, a junior right-hander.

“That’s probably the best pitcher that we have seen all year,” he said. “He was that good. He was really effective. He didn’t get to many three-ball counts, and that’s one of the things we talk about with our guys. We’re not good enough offensively to see a bunch of pitches and get in deep. We’ve got to go out and be aggressive. You saw it in the seventh inning. We’ve got to be aggressive with the first pitch that we see.

“We don’t want to get behind, especially with a kid like this, who’s got some velocity, and he was throwing his curve ball for strikes. We got behind and then we had to react to ‘is it a fastball, is it a curve ball,’ so we stayed aggressive and he did a great job. Zero walks tells the story.”

The Owls committed three errors, but the players who reached first safely in the second and fourth innings did not score.

“The good news is those didn’t hurt us, they didn’t score them, but its a few extra pitches, and maybe we could have gotten BC (Christopher) through the fourth inning,” Richey said. “But I think our pitchers battled. BC grew up a lot tonight. I thought he was as good as he’s ever been, and Hunter (Ahlbrand) came in in a big moment and gets us out of some stuff.

“It played out the way we thought it would. We knew we would have to go with three or four pitchers. I really thought 2-0 going into the seventh that we gave ourselves a chance and that’s all we can do.”

Floyd Central will face BNL at 1 p.m. Saturday as the Stars blanked Jennings County 12-0 in the first game Wednesday. Jeffersonville and New Albany will play in the second game Saturday with the finals at 1 p.m. Monday.