By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – Whatever Logan Shelton said during his players-only meeting in the dugout prior to the bottom of the seventh inning, he should have recorded it, transcribed it and trademarked it.
Spurred by the speech from one of the seniors, Bedford North Lawrence rallied for 5 runs in the final frame, capped by Whitt Callahan’s dramatic walk-off single for the final two runs, as the Stars conquered Jennings County 7-6 on Tuesday evening.
Callahan’s missile into left-center chased home the game-winning runs as BNL (14-10) won a preview of its first-round sectional clash with the Panthers (5-13) on May 22.
The Stars scored all those runs without recording an out in their last swings, although the Panthers definitely were guilty of self-inflicted wounds. BNL had only two hits during the comeback – Zane Harrison’s lead-off single to left and Callahan’s triumphant pinch-hit smash. In between those were a series of walks and hit batters that opened the door.
In fact, the two teams combined for more walks (14) than hits (11). BNL, which was celebrating Senior Night, will take it any way possible.
After BNL scored first in the first, on the strength of Ethan Baer’s lead-off double and Shelton’s RBI single, the Panthers pounced for the lead with two in the third (with BNL allowing two walks and an error in frame) and three more in the sixth (with an error and wild pitch accounting for the runs).
“It didn’t look good,” BNL coach Jeff Callahan said.
BNL clawed back as Colton Brown singled in a run in the sixth, but the Panthers answered with a run in the seventh as Jacob Vogel doubled to center.
Jennings reliever Cody Wilson couldn’t hold the four-run lead, failing to record at out. Callahan – after a brief conference with his father – cracked a 3-1 pitch to chase home Dalton Nikirk (on by walk) and Garrett Watson (hit by pitch) with the final runs.
“He said take until you get a strike,” said Callahan, who had been struggling with a batting slump before getting the pinch-hit summons. “Once you get a strike, swing at good pitches. It felt good. You don’t want to lose on Senior Night. That was a good win for everyone.”
“I’m proud of him just like I would be of any kid,” Jeff Callahan said. “He has been struggling, for sure. But when he got his opportunity, he was ready. That was a nice base hit.”
BNL had only 6 hits and Zane Harrison had two of them. Watson scored twice. Joey Thacker earned the win with two innings of relief work, although neither team wanted to reveal all its strength with the rematch looming.
“I can tell you we won’t take them lightly like we did tonight,” Shelton said. “We’re going to keep pushing. Senior Night lets you know it’s coming to an end, helps us remember everything we’ve done. It means a lot.”
Duncan Rowda had 2 of JC’s 5 hits.
“You want to get on a roll here as we end the regular season,” Jeff Callahan said. “Hopefully this will keep us rolling. We were feeling each other out. But next week you can put all the wins and losses behind. They won’t matter.”
BNL will host Trinity Lutheran in its fifth annual Coaches vs Cancer fundraiser game (played with wooden bats) on Thursday.