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Stars go the extra mile for split with Rockford

BNL’s Braydon Brown delivers a pitch in Game 1 of the doubleheader with Rockford (Mich.) on Friday. The Rams won the opener 4-0 before the Stars won a 5-4, 13-inning battle in the nightcap.

By Justin Sokeland

Bnlathletics.com

BEDFORD – In the dead of the night, as the midnight hour loomed, Bedford North Lawrence’s Logan Shelton finally, with a hero’s flair, ended the drama with the swing of dreams.

Logan Shelton

With one out in the bottom of the 13th inning, with the last stroke of a four-hour marathon, Shelton hammered a walk-off single into the right-field corner, chasing home Colton Brown with the winning run as the Stars edged Rockford (Mich.) 5-4 in the second game of a twinbill late on Friday night.

Rockford won the opener 4-0.

The doubleheader became a tripleheader as the two teams battled deep into extra innings. The Stars (3-4) broke through late as Brown led off with a walk, went to second as Garrett Watson reached on a error, then took third on Evan Waggoner’s ground ball to second.

Shelton, fighting fatigue and facing another Rockford fireballer on the mound, had two strikes when BNL coach Jeff Callahan summoned him for a quick word of wisdom. On the next pitch, Shelton slammed a fastball down the right-field line, setting off a celebration of sprayed water and grateful hugs.

“Coach told me to put the ball in the air, hit it hard,” Shelton said. “I was happy, ready to go home and sleep.”

So was everyone else among the hearty who survived the chill of the night for the thrill of the night.

BNL’s Garrett Watson races toward third base. Watson pitched 6 1/3 innings and struck out 5 in Game 2.

BNL, shut out in Game 1, fell behind 3-0 in the second game. The Stars scored twice in the third without the benefit of a hit (four walks and a sacrifice fly from Ethan Baer), fought back again within 4-3 on Waggoner’s RBI single in the fourth, then pulled even in the sixth as Waggoner ripped another RBI single.

Shelton’s bid to bring home the go-ahead run in that frame was thwarted. His high-bounce single to left sent pinch-runner Hunter Myers scampering toward the plate, but he was gunned down. From that point, pitching dominated as scoring chances were rare until the 13th.

“That’s a big win,” Callahan said. “That was a great high school game. Both teams played well, made plays, made pitches, and executed.”

BNL finished the nightcap with 7 hits as Waggoner, Shelton and Baer had two apiece. Waggoner and Shelton both had 2 RBIs. BNL’s pitching was impressive as Watson went 6 1/3 innings and didn’t allow an earned run, Trevyn Stiles worked 5 2/3 of scoreless relief, and Baer earned the win with a flawless 13th. They combined to throw 195 pitches.

Cody Sterkenburg was 3-for-5 for the Rams.

Logan Shelton connected for the game-winning hit in the bottom of the 13th inning on Friday night.

“Considering this is the best team we’ll play all year, it’s a big win,” Shelton said. “We’re all fatigued, and we were all going up there hoping the game would end. We finished it and that’s what mattered.”

In the opener, Rockford escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first, then scored three in the second while taking advantage of two BNL errors. The Stars were limited to 5 hits but left 11 runners on base.

“The first game hinged on the first inning,” Callahan said. “In the second game, we got down again, but we didn’t give up.”

Caleb Engelsman, Brendan Schueller and Joe Kelley had two hits each for Rockford.

BNL will have little time to celebrate or recover. The Stars will journey to face Evansville Reitz at Boise Field on Saturday afternoon.