For more than half of Monday night's high school baseball game at West Vigo, the host Vikings were looking like winners against Bedford North Lawrence.
Ben Kearns pitched four hitless innings and the Class 3A fifth-ranked Vikings looked ready to break out at any time offensively against Class 4A's 12th-ranked Stars and pitcher Braydon Brown.
But Brown retired the last two Vikings in the bottom of the fourth, and then the fifth inning happened. The first hit allowed by Kearns was the first of two BNL homers in the frame, when the Stars scored six times to take the lead and continued on to an 8-4 win.
BNL was an addition to the Viking schedule after some games were lost to weather or COVID, and coach Culley DeGroote said after the game that the visitors were what the Vikings expected them to be.
"We knew they'd be good," DeGroote said. "They're a very senior-laden team [Braydon Brown was one of seven senior starters for the Stars, six more than the Vikings had in their lineup], and we have shown our youth at times.
"That's why we picked [the Stars] up; we knew we'd learn from this, win or lose . . . you see what you're made of when you get tested a little bit."
Kearns breezed through a nine-pitch, two-strikeout first inning, and Peyton Clerk led off the bottom of the inning with a triple. But Kearns, after hitting a ball over the right-field fence foul, struck out and Carter Murphy was walked intentionally. Case Lautenschlager lined hard to right field but the ball was caught, and Stars outfielder Grant Dalton threw out Clerk at the plate to prevent a sacrifice fly.
With two out in the bottom of the second, the bottom of the Viking batter came through with three straight singles by Jaydon Bradbury, Kaleb Marrs and J.C. Lacher. Lacher's hit was a popup that fell in no-man's land behind first base, but that was enough to bring home courtesy runner Brayden DeLattre with the game's first run.
BNL tied the game in the top of the third when Ryker Hughes was hit by a pitch and came around on a sacrifice, a wild pitch and the first of two Viking errors in the inning — "Our defense let us down, and that hasn't happened hardly at all this year," DeGroote said — but Murphy singled ahead of a two-run homer by Lautenschlager in the bottom of the inning. The Vikings made it 4-1 in the fourth on two errors and an RBI single by Marrs.
But after a leadoff strikeout in the top of the fifth, Konley Woodward broke up the no-hitter with a fly ball that barely cleared the left-field fence near the foul pole. Woodward was the ninth hitter in the Stars' lineup and the hitters at the top of the order — on their third looks at Kearns — got three singles and a walk, then a tie-breaking three-run homer by Cole Karr that made it a 7-4 game.
Braydon Brown, in the meantime, was on his way to retiring the last 11 Vikings, eight on strikeouts and most of those on curveballs that the righthander had begun to locate low and away. Bedford added its final run on three singles off relief pitcher Josh Sigler in the top of the seventh.
"When guys [pitching for the other team] are struggling, we let them settle in," DeGroote said. "Maybe that's part of being young too."
After finishing Monday night's game in sunshine, DeGroote and the Vikings are hoping for more weather luck to get Western Indiana Conference games played the next two nights.
"We're just happy to be playing," the coach said. "We did a lot of good things; just one big inning."
BEDFORD NORTH LAWRENCE (AB-R-H-RBI) — C.Brown cf 4-1-1-0, Pemberton ss 4-2-2-0, Waggoner c 3-1-1-0, Callahan 2b 4-1-2-2, Karr 3b 2-1-1-3, Dalton rf 4-0-0-0, B.Brown p 4-0-0-0, Hughes dh 2-1-0-0, Bennett 1b 0-0-0-0, Ko.Woodward 2-1-2-1. Totals 29-8-9-6.
WEST VIGO (AB-R-H-RBI) — Clerk ss 4-0-1-0, Kearns p-cf 3-0-0-0, Murphy 3b 2-1-1-0, Lautenschlager 2b 3-1-1-2, Blevins lf 3-0-0-0, Skelton 1b 3-0-0-0, Bradbury c 3-2-1-0, Marrs rf 3-0-2-1, Lacher dh 3-0-1-1, Lindsey cf 0-0-0-0, Sigler p 0-0-0-0. Totals 27-4-7-4.
Bedford North Lawrence=001=060=1=—=8
E — Murphy, Skelton, Karr, B.Brown. DP — BNL 1. LOB — BNL 5, WV 3. 3B — Clerk. HR — Lautenschlager, Ko.Woodward, Karr. CS — Ko.Woodward. SH — Ko.Woodward, Karr.
Bedford North Lawrence=IP=H=R=ER=BB=SO
HBP — by Kearns (Hughes). WP — Kearns 3. T — 1:44.
Next — West Vigo (11-5) hosts Brown County at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Bedford North Lawrence is 13-3.