By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – During each of the final three innings, West Vigo applied maximum heat. When the bases are loaded, when the situation is pulsing with potential and the pressure is greatest, cooler heads must prevail. Bedford North Lawrence had the ice-water kids ready to cool down the moment.
When the Stars needed big outs, BNL relievers Kline Woodward and Cal Gates got ‘em as the Stars fought off the Vikings 5-3 on Thursday evening. The Stars (6-2) extended their winning streak to five with another quality victory.
Those final three innings were complete opposites of the first four. The Vikings (6-2) had made little noise against BNL starter Walker Ward, who struck out seven in his 4 2/3 innings of work. When West Vigo threatened in the fifth, Woodward fanned West Vigo’s Garrett Porter to leave three stranded. After the Vikings loaded the bases and scored twice in the sixth, BNL second baseman Maddox Ray snagged a line drive off the bat of Jaydon Bradbury to end that rally.
And in the seventh, with a run already across and the bases loaded, Gates was summoned to get the final out. On a full-count, do-or-die pitch, Gates got West Vigo’s Kaleb Marrs looking at strike three. Big moments, big pitches.
“A lot of high pressure situations in those late innings,” BNL coach Jeff Callahan said. “They did a really nice job. They made pitches to get us out of innings.
The Stars took control with a three-run third inning. With one out, Gates walked and Kaedyn Bennett singled him to third. Woodward reached on a misplayed ground ball to shortstop as Gates scored. With two outs, Ward delivered a key two-run single.
BNL added two more in the fifth. With two outs, Ward walked, Jonny Stone beat out an infield single, and Ray ripped a single to center to load the bases. Two runs scored when Carter Bennett’s ground ball was thrown away.
Ward was 2 for 3 with two RBIs. Porter and Carter Murphy had two hits each for West Vigo.
“They were going to be the top team we played this week, maybe for the next few weeks,” Callahan said. “They’re always good. They battled, but we held on and did enough to win the game.
“That’s how things go. When things go well, it kind of snowballs. Sometimes, when things don’t go well, it snowballs the wrong way. But the kids are competing. We want to throw strikes, make the routine plays and have quality at-bats. You’ll give yourself a chance each and every night.”
BNL will visit Edgewood on Friday.