Jennings tops BNL 4-3 in HHC opener

NORTH VERNON – Jennings County advanced to the semifinal round of the Hoosier Hills Conference tournament with a 4-3 victory over Bedford North Lawrence during high school baseball action on Monday.

The Panthers (8-10) will face the Columbus East-Floyd Central winner in the next round, while the Stars (13-7) will face that loser in the consolation round. East’s game with Floyd was postponed to Tuesday.

Jennings took advantage of two key errors to score three unearned runs, then fought off BNL’s rally in the top of the seventh inning.

“We’ve been in this position a lot, losing a tough first-round game,” BNL coach Jeff Callahan said. “Now we have to look ahead, use these next two games to get better.”

The Panthers scored twice in the first against BNL starter Kline Woodward. With two outs, Austin Byford singled, Cole Sigler walked, and Logan Napier singled to left. Both runners scored when Napier’s hit was misplayed. Jennings added a run in the third on Cole Skinner’s double and Byford’s RBI single.

BNL countered with two runs in the fourth. Woodward, Cal Gates and Cam Gates all walked to load the bases, and Walker Ward lofted a RBI single to left. Cade Mungle plated the second run with a sacrifice fly.

Jennings added a big insurance run (without the benefit of a hit) in the fifth, taking advantage of an error, a hit batter, a sacrifice bunt and a ground out.

The Stars rallied in the seventh. With one out, Trace Rynders walked and Woodward singled. With two out, Cam Gates singled to center to make it 4-3, but JC reliever Cole Sigler got the final out on a Ward ground ball.

Rynders and Cam Gates both had two hits for BNL. Byford earned the win for JC, working 5 2/3 innings and giving up two runs.

Jennings had only four hits against Woodward, who went the distance and struck out five.

“When you play tight games, the free bases usually win the game,” Callahan said. “We gave up some free bases, and we had some opportunities. We weren’t able to get the big hits and get the lead. We have to play batter. Kline pitched really well, did everything he could to give us a chance to win.”

BNL will host the consolation game on Wednesday, then finish the HHC at Jeffersonville on Friday. The Red Devils lost a 5-4 decision to New Albany in nine innings.