By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Wild things made the hearts sing, and skip a beat, as scuffling pitchers struggled with control. Locating the strike zone became a Twilight Zone episode.
Bedford North Lawrence took advantage of Brown County’s GPS issues to score 7 first-inning runs, and the Stars survived their own bouts of mound misery to conquer the Eagles 10-8 in their home opener on Thursday night.
The Stars (2-3) didn’t do a lot of hitting but didn’t have to as the Eagles issued six walks and hit four batters. Those free-range baserunners did a lot of damage, and BNL battled through bases-loaded anxiety and ignored a late rain burst to post its second straight win.
Clayton Allen (1-0) went four innings for the victory in his first varsity start, and junior left-hander Cade Provo earned a tough save with three relief innings. He was thrust into the furnace when Allen couldn’t get an out in the fifth, and he protected the lead once he settled into rhythm.
“That’s very hard to do,” Provo said. “You’re coming in, just trying to throw strikes. It’s one of the most nerve-racking things you can do, trying not to let your teammates down but also trying to pound the zone and make sure they don’t get big jumps on you.
“I just focused on the mitt and tried to pound the zone as much as I could, let the defense do their work.”
Brown County, an hour late arriving for the scheduled game time, paid for its tardiness as the Stars struck quickly. Evan Waggoner and Trevyn Stiles cracked RBI singles to spark the rally, Ethan Baer doubled, and Dalton Nikirk drew a walk to load the bases against BC starter Trey Gault (0-1).
Plunk, plunk. Two hit batters, followed by a wild pitch and passed ball, cleared the the bases for the 7-0 lead.
Brown County (2-2) chipped away with a run in the second and three more in the fourth. John Zeigler stroked a two-run single to highlight the rally. But the Stars came back with three more in the bottom of the frame, thanks to two more hit batters and an error.
BNL cracked in the fifth as BC loaded the bases with a walk and two hit batters. Provo made his entrance and allowed two singles, plus a BNL error, and four runs that cut the lead to 10-8 before the fire was extinguished.
Allen gave up 7 runs and 7 hits. Provo (a transfer from Twin Lakes prior to the start of the current school year) surrendered two hits but struck out 4 once he established command of his breaking pitch.
“For his first varsity start, Clayton did a nice job,” Callahan said. “He’s worked hard to get the opportunity. They were able to put some balls in play and it snowballed. Brown County did a nice job of not giving up after they got down.
“Cade needs to continue to build that confidence. He’s done a great job of adapting.”
Stiles had two hits and Garrett Watson had two RBIs for the Stars. Aaron McCann and Bean Neal had two hits each for the Eagles.
BNL will host Rockford (Mich.) in a doubleheader on Friday at 5 p.m.