WHEELS UP: Madison’s Max DeVito (5) and John McCarty (15) signal to Derek Anderson to score standing up during Tuesday’s game at home. The Cubs scored all four runs in the first inning to beat Bedford North Lawrence 4-3 in the opening round of the HHC tournament. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
WHEELS UP: Madison’s Max DeVito (5) and John McCarty (15) signal to Derek Anderson to score standing up during Tuesday’s game at home. The Cubs scored all four runs in the first inning to beat Bedford North Lawrence 4-3 in the opening round of the HHC tournament. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
Madison scored all the runs it needed in the first inning to beat Bedford North Lawrence 4-3 in the opening round of the Hoosier Hills Conference baseball tournament on Tuesday at Gary O'Neal Field.

The Cubs got a leadoff triple from Xavier Barnes and a big two-run double from Ethan Leach to score four runs in the bottom of the first.

That outburst was more than enough for senior Clark Vaughn - who pitched seven innings and allowed just three runs on four hits - and a Madison defense that played flawlessly all day.

"You put a four-spot on the board in the first you're looking at six, eight or 10 runs but that's one thing we really haven't learned yet, once we have a team down to put it on their throat a little," Madison coach Shannon Barger said. "But we got enough to win thanks to Clark and our defense played well. It's always great to get that first win in the conference tournament."

Madison (9-10) couldn't have gotten off to a better start. After Vaughn set the Stars down in order in the top of the first, Barnes opened the Cub first with a towering shot to the right-center field fence that he easily turned into a stand-up triple. A wild pitch later, Barnes sprinted home for the 1-0 lead.

But Madison wasn't through scoring. Vaughn reached with a one-out single and Derek Anderson followed with a walk. Both runners scored on Leach's rocket shot to left that went for a double. Leach alertly took third on the play at the plate and scored on John McCarty's ground-out.

The Cubs wouldn't score again but the four-run outburst proved to be enough. Vaughn (4-3) sat down nine of the first 10 batters he faced and took a no-hitter into the fourth before Bedford's Drew Hensley led off the fourth with a double. He later scored on a Cole Mathews sacrifice fly.

The Stars (9-11) added two more runs in the fifth but missed a chance to tie the game thanks to a terrific defensive play by the Cubs.

BNL's Jake Green and Dillon Hensley each coaxed walks to lead off the inning and Green scored on a Josh Chaney single. Drew Hensley then laced a two-out single to center that scored Dillon Hensley, but a good throw by Barnes in center nailed Chaney at the plate.

Clinging to a one-run lead, Vaughn did his part. He stranded a runner in the sixth then sat down the side in order in the seventh to secure the win.

Vaughn struck out six and walked three while tossing the four-hitter.

"Clark really gutted out a win today. That was probably the best he has pitched all year," Barger said. "It seems as the weather warms up, he's getting better. He's gotten better every time out."

Madison managed only five hits of its own against BNL starter Tanner Tow, three of which came in the first inning. The Stars turned three double plays in the game to thwart the Cubs' chances at tacking on runs. Alex Risk and Anderson added hits later in the game.

Tow (2-4) allowed four earned runs on five hits in five and one-third innings with three strikeouts and three walks. Mathews didn't allow a hit in the final two-thirds.

Drew Hensley had half of Bedford's four hits. Chaney and Mathews also had hits for the Stars.

Madison advances to the HHC semifinals where it will host Jeffersonville tonight. The Red Devils stunned Class 4A No. 3 Floyd Central 7-6 in the opening round on Monday. The win assures the Cubs no worse than a fourth-place finish in the tournament.

"If we looked at rankings, we were going to finish last," Barger said. "We feel confident in what we do but (Jeff) is good. They're really good. They have a D-1 player and they've got a kid that pitched a perfect game last week so it's going to be everything we want. But that's what this is all about. Expectations. We expect to be in this position."