“We earned it.”
Those were the words Seymour head baseball coach Jeremy Richey told his team after a hard-fought 7-6 win over Bedford North Lawrence in the opening round of the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament at American Legion Field Monday afternoon.
The game was tied at 1-1 after one inning, 2-2 after three inningsnand 4-4 after four innings.
Charlie Longmeier blasted a two-run homer over the fence in right field that landed on the tennis courts to go up 6-4 in the fifth, and the Owls added a run in the sixth that turned out to be huge as BNL scored twice in the top of the seventh.
Longmeier said it was his third homer of the year, including his second at home.
“I knew it was gone,” he said as he watched it fly out of the field. “It was a fastball right down the middle.”
This is the second time the Owls and Stars played on the Seymour diamond with BNL winning the first game 8-7 in eight innings.
“That’s two teams that are pretty good baseball teams that fight,” Richey said. “The way that they fought to win the first game in the eighth inning, and for us to come back. That third, fourth, fifth and sixth, for us to score in every inning against their best pitchers, that’s big because we have struggled. They had 12 hits and we had seven, but we were the team that got the hits when we needed them.”
Longmeier said, “They’re ranked in many pools. We knew they were going to be tough. They beat us earlier this year. We knew how that felt and we wanted to bottle that. We had a real chip on our shoulder tonight because, honestly, we don’t get a lot of respect around the state. That’s OK. I think it helps us stay confident and keep a chip on our shoulder. We knew we had to come in and get this one tonight. That puts us in the top half of the conference. We expect to do more than that.”
The Owls will host Scottsburg today, then will travel to New Albany Wednesday in the semifinals of the HHC tournament.
The Stars threatened in the sixth inning and had two runners on base when Carter Bennett hit a fly ball into short right center field that Longmeier dove and caught the ball just inches from hitting the grass.
“I got a good jump on it. I thought Treyton (McCormick, right fielder) had a chance at it, then I looked over and I was ‘All right, I’m just going to take this one’ and I called him off,” Longmeier said. “I dove and caught it. They (the BNL team) didn’t think I caught it, but I did catch it. I think that was just confidence, and it kind of spiraled from there and when I got that RBI single in the first.”
Vince Wilson was hit by a pitch in the first. He advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Longmeier’s hit.
Bret Perry walked in the third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Gavin Leavy.
With two out and nobody on base in the fourth, Brady Harpe walked and Jack Pennington singled, and both scored on a hit by Perry.
Wilson singled and Longmeier homered in the fifth, and Aiden Darlage walked in the sixth and was replaced by pinch-runner Parker Thompson, who scored when Longmeier walked with the bases loaded.
Wilson and Longmeier both had two hits, and Perry, Leavy and Pennington had one each. Wilson scored two runs, and Longmeier had four RBI, Perry had two and Leavy had one.
“We’ve got to keep throwing strikes,” Longmeier said in order to keep winning. “I feel most of their runs came off of putting them on by walks and weak hits and stuff like that, so our pitchers need to continue to throw strikes. We’ve got to keep hitting the ball. A lot of people that haven’t been hitting the ball are getting confident, including me. Baseball is all about confidence.”
Richey said the home run and catch by Longmeier in the sixth inning “is big for him because he’s struggled a little more than he expected this year. He found the barrel a couple times tonight and made a couple plays defensively. That’s what we need from him, especially in games like this. We’ve got to have our best players make the big play. I’m very proud of him. That will get him out of this, I hope.”
Wilson was on base four times with two hits and he was hit by pitch twice.
“Vinny’s just a baseball player,” Richey said. “He just makes things happen. Even when he gets beat with stuff, he throws his hands at it and is able to beat things out. We’ve got a lot of guys that are understanding their roles and doing a nice job with them.”
Mikey Wright pitched the first 4.1 innings, and Leavy finished. They combined to strike out five and didn’t walk any. Seymour is 15-4 on the season.