By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Colton Brown made two brilliant defensive plays and one kick save for Bedford North Lawrence. The first two saved runs, the latter kickstarted an offensive outburst and a vital victory.
He was just one of the key contributors as the Stars stopped North Harrison 12-6 on Friday afternoon. Ethan Baer was another, cracking 3 hits and driving in 5 runs, and Braydon Brown earned his first win with six solid innings.
The Stars (4-6) ended a two-game skid, taking advantage of 11 walks (six of those later scored) for extra opportunities.
None was more important, setting the tone for the offense, than Brown’s innocent at-bat in the second. With two out and two on, North Harrison thought it had recorded the final out when Brown meekly tapped into a ground out. The Cougars left the field, with the score knotted at 1-1.
But BNL coach Jeff Callahan questioned whether the ball had glanced off Brown (after contact) while he was in the batter’s box, which constitutes a foul ball. The umpires conferred and agreed, sending the Cougars back on defense, and Brown returned to the plate. He walked to load the bases.
Baer cleared them, ripping a double to right-center as BNL took a 4-1 lead and never looked back.
“That was big,” Callahan said. “It extended the inning, and next thing you know we put up a four-spot. That was a big hit, he put a good swing on it.”
That was the launch point for the win. Baer later capped the BNL scoring with a two-run single during a 5-run sixth, and Whitt Callahan had two sacrifice flies as the Stars made the most of 9 hits. Patience was rewarded.
“When you see the ball, look for a pitch you want to hit, our offense can roll,” Baer said. “When we get overly aggressive and swing at pitches we don’t want, we have some bad games. Today was a good example of hitting the pitches we like.”
BNL did damage on the pitches that actually crossed the plate. Most of the ones the Stars saw did not. Only half the 140 pitches from North Harrison hurlers Colin Higdon (0-1) and Evan Lasley were strikes.
The Stars added two runs in the fifth on Callahan’s second sac fly and a double steal executed by Brown and Baer. They capped the night in the sixth as Jarrett Faubion (RBI double to left), Dalton Nikirk (RBI double to left) and Baer (two-run single) came through with the clutch hits.
Back to Brown. He turned a double play in the third, racing in quickly to snag a line drive off the bat of Jake Harley and firing to first to get Zane Armstrong (who had been running on the pitch). He then made a sensational diving catch in the sixth.
“Colton can cover some ground out there,” Callahan said. “He’s learning varsity baseball is a little different, he’s done a nice job. Those were two greats plays.”
The other Brown (1-1) on the mound kept the Cougars quiet, allowing 6 hits and 2 earned runs.
“It seems in all three starts he has gotten stronger as the game went on,” Callahan said. “He’s learning. He won’t blow it by people, but he’ll learn to pitch, to make pitches.”
Dawson Howell and 3 hits and 2 RBIs for North Harrison (1-6).
BNL will return to action on Saturday at Evansville North.