Gates, Stars slam 2A No.4 Bluejackets in county clash
Friday, May 5, 2023
By Justin Sokeland - WBIW.com
MITCHELL – Power is not a lead-off hitter’s usual strength. Even in modern-day baseball, with so much focus on analytics and statistics, the first batter in the order is placed at the top for a reason. Set the table, get on base and start something.
Cal Gates, a sophomore who has already committed to Indiana University, will develop power as he ages and matures. He’s a line-drive slasher who goes gap-to-gap rather than plate-to-fence. He picked the perfect time to flex. This time, he was the finisher.
Capping a nine-run explosion, Gates blasted a back-breaking grand slam in the second as Bedford North Lawrence cruised to a 13-1, mercy-rule win over Mitchell in the first county rivalry game at sparkling new Gary Seitzinger Field on Friday afternoon.
The Gates launch – his first career homer – was the big blow as the Stars (14-5) avenged last year’s home loss to their southern rivals.
“It feels great,” Gates said. “It was a heavy burden, getting beat by them last year. This was a big game for everyone who was in that starting lineup last year.”
This clash started with drama. BNL scored twice in the first, doing all the damage with two outs. Ryker Hughes singled, Cade Mungle walked, Walker Ward smacked a RBI single to center, and Jonny Stone stroked a run-scoring single to center.
The Bluejackets got their lone run in the first as Ward struggled with early control. After two walks, Ben Seitzinger – who just set the school record for career hits – rifled a single to center to chase home the run. Ward – who needed 32 pitches to get out of the initial inning, and was about a pitch away from a quick yank – escaped a bases-loaded jam with a ground out, then settled down to strike out five and scatter five hits.
“He was a little amped up,” BNL coach Jeff Callahan said. “He did a nice job after that.”
The Stars exploded in the second. Nate Pemberton ignited the rally with a RBI single, and he later scored on one of Mitchell’s three errors. Ward whacked a RBI single, Kaedyn Bennett reached on another error, and Maddox Ray ripped a RBI single. Then Gates hammered his grand slam to center for a 12-1 lead.
He definitely did that.
“It’s always nice to put those crooked numbers up,” Callahan said. “We took advantage of some mistakes. It makes it a lot easier on your pitcher and defense when you have a big lead.”
Gates had two hits and the four RBIs on one big swing. Ward, Ray and Pemberton added two hits each for BNL.
Seitzinger was 2 for 3 for the Bluejackets (16-4).
“We just had a bad inning against a good team,” Mitchell coach Jerry Chaney said. “That’s baseball. We have had a tremendous year so far. We can’t let one inning define us. We will shake this off, learn from it, and keep getting better. Tonight was their night. Last year, we got the breaks.”
BNL, still in the midst of a seven-game road swing, will visit Seymour for the first round of the Hoosier Hills Conference tournament on Monday.