By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – University blazed through Bedford North Lawrence like a untamed wildfire, scorching the Stars for a doubleheader sweep.
The Trailblazers, ranked No.6 in Class 2A, doused the Stars with quality pitching in the opener, winning 4-0 while allowing only four hits. In Game 2, BNL blasted three home runs during a surprising power display but could not keep University at bay during a 10-5 setback.
BNL (15-6) hoped to use these Saturday games as a springboard into the Hoosier Hills Conference tournament next week. That trampoline effect is still possible after the Stars jumped into a higher level of competition and absorbed two learning experiences.
“No one wants to lose, no one wants to lose two games,” BNL coach Jeff Callahan said. “But we saw competition a little closer to what we’ll see next week.
“Records don’t matter, batting average doesn’t matter. A chance to win championships is what matters. If we take two losses and it helps us beat Floyd Central on Monday, I’ll trade that any day of the week.”
In the opener, University’s Grayson Knight (2-0) worked 4 2/3 innings and worked around three hits and three walks, thanks in no small measure to three double plays. BNL had the bases loaded in the sixth against reliever Tyler Gaylean and didn’t do damage.
The double plays (a popped-up bunt in the third, a line drive to second base in the fourth, an out at the plate while attempting to score on a fly ball in the sixth) were rally killers.
“We had some chances,” Callahan said. “We all did things. As a coach I made mistakes, we made mistakes pitching and fielding. We have to score runs to win.”
Evan Waggoner and Ryker Hughes had doubles among BNL’s four hits.
“Grayson really established his fastball and he kept them off balance,” University coach Chris Estep said. “Gaylean had a sharp breaking ball. And our guys are starting to pitch with a purpose.”
In the second game, the Stars jumped to a 2-0 lead before the Trailblazers (15-6) caught fire. University struck with a two-run double by Adam Oxley in the third, four straight singles set the stage for three runs in the fourth, Gaylean had a run-scoring single during a two-run fifth, and Matt Moore had a two-run double in a three-run sixth.
Moore and Luke Hellman had three hits each for University, which banged out 14 total.
“I don’t want to say we’re a bad hitting team, but we haven’t swung the bats like we did today,” Estep said. “We had solid approaches. And the old adage is hitting is contagious. When you get one hit, you get another.
“We knew we would have to bring our A game to compete. We’re in the part of our schedule where you can get whipped pretty quick if you don’t come out ready to go.”
BNL scored twice with only one hit in the second, and the rest of the runs were solo homers. Cole Karr connected to center leading off the third, Whitt Callahan clubbed one to left in the fourth, and Kline Woodward walloped a pinch-hit blast to left in the seventh.
“The bad thing is we had seven home runs this week, and six were solos,” Callahan said. “We’ve hit more home runs (16 by nine different players) than I thought we would hit, by more kids. Our kids competed, but we left some pitches up and they hit the ball well.”
BNL will visit Floyd Central for the first round of the HHC on Monday.