NEW ALBANY – Bedford North Lawrence erupted offensively while crushing New Albany 15-8 in the Hoosier Hills Conference baseball tournament semifinal on Wednesday afternoon at Mt. Tabor Field.
The Stars (12-9) exploded for 8 runs in the third and cracked out 17 hits to smother the Bulldogs while advancing to the championship game at Jeffersonville on Friday. BNL has never won the league title.
Zane Harrison had 4 hits, including a home run, and hit for the cycle, Colton Brown had 4 hits, and Ethan Baer drove in 4 runs to highlight BNL’s attack.
“It was another good night,” BNL coach Jeff Callahan said. “I tell you what, we did a good job. We did that against a pretty good pitcher. It was up and down the order. We’re not relying on that one person or two people to come through. We just try to put the ball in play, hit the ball hard and help our team win.”
The Bulldogs (16-6) blasted to a 4-0 lead on a pair of two-run home runs in the first two innings, but the Stars erased that while sending 13 batters to the plate in the top of the third. BNL added 5 more runs in the fourth to break away.
Steven Thom powered New Albany in front with a two-rum bomb in the first, and Owen Tanksley matched that power surge with his launch to center in the second.
Then the Stars went to work.
Harrison started the onslaught with a RBI double, and Logan Shelton chased home the second run with a ground out. BNL did the rest of the damage was two outs as Garrett Watson smashed a bases-loaded single, Brown lashed a two-run single, Baer plated another run with a single, and Evan Waggoner capped the huge frame with a run-scoring hit for an 8-4 advantage.
After New Albany responded with 3 runs in the bottom of the third, two racing home on Dylan Clark’s single, the Stars took control in the fourth. Watson hammered another RBI double, Whitt Callahan reached on an error (1 of 6 by the Bulldogs) as another run crossed, Baer ripped a two-run double and Waggoner followed with a RBI single for a 13-7 lead.
Harrison cranked his homer in the sixth.
The hitting stats were impressive. Harrison was 4-for-6 with 2 RBIs, Dalton Nikirk was 3-for-4, Brown was 4-for-5 and scored 3 times. And the Stars left 13 runners on base.
Joey Thacker earned the win on the mound. He worked 5 innings in relief and walked 7, but he surrendered only 1 hit and 1 run.
“Joey got us out of jams,” Callahan said. “He pitched well, and that was his longest outing of the year. He was a little wild, he walked on the edge a little. It was good to see him go out there and pitch well.”
The Red Devils reached the final with a 6-5 victory over Floyd Central.
“We’re excited to be in the championship game,” Callahan said. “If it’s anything like the last time, it will be exciting. We’ve got two of the three done. We keep talking about the big picture, which is the sectional, but it sure would be nice to win the HHC and get the proverbial monkey off the back.”