MUNSTER | It would have been a heck of a way to lose a ball game to open the season.
Two outs, two strikes, two-run lead in the bottom of the seventh and the home team gets a clutch two-run home run to tie the game.
But two innings later that blast on a chilly Tuesday afternoon was just a blip as Lake Central starting pitcher Lily Del Toro composed herself to get the next four outs, and Annabel Karberg got the save in a 5-4 victory over Munster in nine innings.
The Times No. 1 Indians opened the game with two runs in the top of the first inning, using some small ball to take advantage of Munster mistakes. Two passed balls, a walk and a stolen base contributed to the runs, with Melanie Pabon getting an RBI double.
L.C. added two more runs in the third inning on some more small ball, scoring on a groundout by Pabon and a single by Laurren Ladwig after a walk and sacrifice bunt to start the inning.
“We have a different makeup this year,” L.C. coach Jeff Sherman said. “We have some speed that we want to utilize.”
On the other side, Munster’s offense is tailor-made to its one-year-old field with two runs scoring in the third on doubles by Taylor Michalski and Taylor Kotzo, and the last two on a moonshot home run in the bottom of the seventh by Madelynn Moore.
“She was able to come up with the big hit when we needed it,” Munster coach Beth Thornburg said.
But the passed ball issue that led to L.C. runs in the first inning returned in the ninth. Ladwig led off with a double, was bunted to third and with two outs a pitch got past Munster catcher Gina Rice to allow Ladwig to score.
“She’s a catcher who doesn’t have a lot of experience back there,” Thornburg said. “She’s a senior who has never caught in high school.
“We got nine hits against quality pitching. We just had a couple hitters who didn’t get key hits.”
Michalski could be in that group. She had the double in the third, but struck out twice — once with runners on second and third and one out in the fourth, and was basically intentionally walked in the eighth with a runner on second base and one out.
“One through five in (Munster’s) order is tough — against that order it ain’t done till it’s done,” Sherman said. “(Del Toro) was tough in tough situations. A couple times when Michalski was up, Lily bore down and got her out. Those may be two of only three or four strikeouts all year for Michalski.”