For The Tribune
Seymour’s baseball team came through when the pressure was on during Monday’s Class 4A sectional tournament game against Bedford North Lawrence at American Legion Field.
The game was tied at 2-2 going into the top of the seventh when Mitchell Moore and Jorge Vega came up with hits that drove in runs to give the Owls a 4-2 win.
Owls coach Jeremy Richey said that second run in the seventh was huge.
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“We’re up by one run, and if a baserunner gets on, they can still play the game,” Richey said. “But with a two-run lead, they had to get extra guys on base and make things happen, like get hits instead of manufacturing something.”
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, the Stars put the tying runs on base with a walk and a single.
Moore, who also pitched, then got the next batter to pop up to the catcher before the next batter walked to load the bases.
The Stars’ Austin Long hit a line drive down the first-base line, but Vega was in the right place at the right time to make the catch and preserve the victory.
Moore said he trusted his defense to make plays behind him as the Owls played error-less ball.
“I felt confident,” Moore said. “I felt like the game was in my hands. I felt I had what it takes to get it done. Our defense stepped up for me, and I appreciate that.
“Pretty much all my pitches I was getting them out with. They were barreling it up most of the time, but it was right to our guys.”
Moore said on the final out to Vega, “He plays line all the time, and I expected him to be there. It was just whether or not it was on the ground, and he made a good play.”
Vega had to dramatically reposition his body in order to get the out and seal the victory.
“I wasn’t far off the line much because it’s a ‘no doubles situation,’ and with them being behind on the pitcher most of the game, I was going to make sure that nothing got past me,” Vega said. “I thought it was going to bounce so I went on my knees to block it.”
Seymour took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Satoshi Hirose walked, then advanced to second on a sacrifice by Moore, and he scored on a single by Vega.
The Stars tied the game in the second on a single by Brody Tanksley and a double by Jack Green.
Cole Mathews walked in the third inning and scored on a single by Long for a 2-1 Stars lead.
Alan Perry had big hits leading off the fifth and seventh innings to start rallies for the Owls.
In the fifth Perry singled to left field, advanced on another single by Luis Muñoz and scored on a single by Moore.
Perry led off the seventh with a single. He was sacrificed to second by Luis Muñoz. After Hirose walked, Moore singled to drive in Perry. Vega followed with a single that brought in Hirose.
“That was a huge baserunning play by Sami (Hirose),” Richey said. “They’re looking to throw to the plate, and he sneaks into third base (on Moore’s hit) and he scored from there.”
Moore went the distance on the mound and had four strike outs while walking two and allowing seven hits.
“Mitchell’s our guy,” Richey said. “We knew it was going to come down to him and fortunately he was at the plate at the right time. We knew a long time ago that he was going to be the man with the ball today. I’m proud of him and that’s a senior stepping up.
“It was just a well-played game. We’re not a great-hitting team so we knew it was going to come down to situational hitting and defense. We worked a lot on defense, a lot on base running, and just trying to get that key hit because if you would have told me we were going to get seven hits I would have taken it.”
Richey was pleased with his team’s offensive production.
“I thought it was going to be a game that we would have to manufacture a lot more,” Richey said. “Our kids just stepped up huge. They bought into what we talked about all week, and came out and executed when they needed to.
“That was two teams that played extremely well, and we were the guys that came out on top.”
The Owls (15-12) will play Floyd Central for the championship at 6 p.m. tonight.
On May 7, the Highlanders defeated the Owls 6-2 in Seymour.
“We know it’s a big challenge, but that’s all we’re worried about, and we’ll see what we can do to them,” Richey said.
This is the second time in four years that the Owls have advanced to the championship game.
The Stars finished 20-9-1.