Stars win opener over Tigers

Apr. 16—DOVER — Coming into Tuesday night's match-up against cross-county for Lebanon, the Western Boone baseball team had dropped 10-straight contests to their rivals.

But all throughout the opening weeks of the season, the Stars have been saying there is a different mindset with this group, and they showed that in a 6-3 victory over Lebanon.

"I'm excited for our guys," Western Boone head coach Michael Nance said. "We had a good offensive game plan and have been watching a ton of video on (Corbin) Wells and we were trying to hit everything to right field, make him throw us fast balls and adjust on the curve. Our guys executed and did everything we asked them to do."

The Stars jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning.

Lebanon had the tying run on base twice in the final three innings, but couldn't convert.

"They were able to get the early momentum and got a couple of key hits," Lebanon head coach Rick Cosgray said. "I am proud of the way our kids continued to compete and gave ourselves a chance late in the game. Hopefully we can carry that over to tomorrow."

There were a couple of instances as the Tigers tried to comeback that showed the growth that Stars have made as a program over the past couple of seasons.

The Stars led 4-0 in the fifth, when Caleb McClaine and Owen Bigler hit back-to-back 1-out singles.

The Tigers then scored a run on a fielders' choice and an error, before loading the bases on an error and hit by pitch.

Bryce Nelson then hit an RBI-single to make it 4-2, but with the tying run on second base, Bryce Kopriva got a ground out to get out of the jam.

"That's the biggest difference between this group and the last couple of years — we don't push the panic button," Nance said. "We can have a call not go our way, or make an error in the field, and come back. We know that our pitchers are going to throw strikes and our defense will make the next play."

They showed similar resiliency in the seventh.

Trailing 6-2, the Tigers had two on with two outs when Corbin Wells drew a walk to load the bases.

Jack Ferrell followed with a line drive single off Kopriva and into center field, plating a run and ending Kopriva's day.

With the tying run at first, Levi Stewart came in and got a ground out to end the game.

"Levi Stewart is an absolute animal and has been closing all our big games for us," Nance said. "I probably should have gotten him out there one batter early, but Bryce said he had it and we trust Bryce. But we have 100% confidence that Levi is going to get us that last out and he did."

Western Boone grabbed the lead in the second inning.

The Stars loaded the bases with no outs, and after a strike out, took the lead on a wild pitch.

After a strike out, the Stars came up with back-to-back clutch 2-out hits, first with Gavin Hawkins hitting a 2-run single, followed by a Jackson Grimes RBI-triple.

"They did a nice job with some two-strike swings," Cosgray said. "They set the table with some hits, and Corbin didn't make bad pitches, they just had better swings. They had a couple of perfectly placed balls in right field and that's the way the game goes sometimes."

Lebanon scored the two runs in the fifth, but WeBo scored on a wild pitch in the bottom half of the inning, then added a run on an error in the sixth.

The Tigers had five hits, all singles, but have scored three runs or less in six of their eight games.

Hawkins and Carter Marcum each had two hits for the Stars. Kopriva struck out six in 6.2 innings. Wells struck out six in five innings.

The two teams are scheduled to face off again on Wednesday at Memorial Park.

"Baseball games are hard to win, and we have to be able to enjoy these moments," Nance said. "So we want them to go home and enjoy it tonight, but then go to bed hungry because we're not done. We're not content with a split, and we are going to Lebanon tomorrow trying to win another game."

For Lebanon, they are looking to earn the split, and stay in contention at the top of the conference early in the season.

"This game is about momentum, we fought back and made some adjustments at the plate that were very beneficial for us," Cosgray said. "We have to carry that into tomorrow. We have to, pitching wise, be aggressive and make them earn their way, then offensively, come out and try to get on the board early."

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.