With a sectional crown on the line, the Floyd Central baseball team looked to spoil Seymour’s chance of winning a title on their its turf.
The Highlanders did just that, as they defeated the Owls 7-0 on Tuesday evening at American Legion Field.
It was a difficult day for the Owls, as they committed six errors and had just two hits against the powerhouse Highlanders.
“Our kids went and played aggressive, and that’s all we can ask of them,” Owls coach Jeremy Richey said. “The thing that’s going to hurt for a while is the six errors.”
In the bottom of the first, the Highlanders got on the board first as junior Kyler Sherrill was driven home from third base by an RBI single from senior Dylan Ragsdale.
Following two innings of play, trailing 1-0, the Owls substituted pitcher Ryan Wieneke for Satoshi Hirose.
With two runners on base in the third inning, Highlanders junior Jarod Deckard blasted a homer into the pine trees near the new Owls scoreboard in left field.
“That home run changes it because now we needed to get some hits,” Richey said. “When we were down 1-0 we can make some things happen, but 4-0 makes it tougher. We gotta tip our hat to (Kyle Beach), he’s a big, strong kid that did a nice job tonight (pitching).”
Owls senior Mitchell Moore got the first hit for his team in the top of the fourth inning, but the squad wouldn’t capitalize, as Moore got picked off on a steal attempt at second base.
The Highlanders’ Evan Jewell got hit a double to lead off his team in the fourth and the Owls made another pitching change as junior right fielder Janzen Bloom replaced Hirose.
A sacrifice bunt got Jewell to third base before an Owls errant throw to first base translated to another Highlanders run.
Up 5-0 in the fifth inning, the Highlanders extended their lead when senior Brandon Smith scored on a passed ball. Another Owls error gave the Highlanders the 7-0 lead.
Bobby Kaufman, a senior, notched a single in the top of the sixth but was left stranded.
A double play, a pop fly out and tag at home plate by the Owls ended the bottom of the sixth to hold the Highlanders scoreless in the inning.
“We knew in a game like this, where you have nothing to lose, we were going to pitch a few guys,” Richey said of playing three pitchers. “We knew that these kids could hit, and we wanted to change it up on them.
“Ryan is a taller kid who has velocity, then we went to Sami (Hirose), who mixes it up well, and Janzen (Bloom) dials up the speed on them. We just tried to run people in and out of there and had another one ready if we needed to.”
With the victory, the Highlanders claimed their first title since 2004.
The Owls program returned to a sectional title game for the first time since 2012 this season. They have not won a sectional title since 1995.
This year was the first time that Seymour hosted a sectional baseball playoffs.
With the loss, the Owls finish 15-12 on their 2015 campaign.
Kaufman, Moore, Seth Stuckwisch, Brandon Shafer and Clayton Mettert all graduate from the Owls’ program.
“This group of seniors has been huge for us,” Richey said. “I think they’ve won 64 or 65 games for us while playing here. Last year we went 13-15, and I think this year’s seniors put it on their shoulders to make sure we would at least have a winning record and get some big wins. They took it upon themselves to win some games this year.”
While the Owls will miss their core group of seniors, they will return a handful of players next season.
“The younger guys just need to buy into it,” Richey said. “They saw what it looks like when you play against an older group. We saw the physical part of it, (Floyd) had a bunch of big kids and obviously a big part of it is the weight room for them. We have a lot of kids coming back and we are excited about that.”