When Wheeler's Nickole Finch gave up a home run to Lake Station's Caitlin Acker in the fourth inning, she remained calm.
It was Bearcats coach Marc Bruner who was doing the worrying.
"I was having some flashbacks to last year when we gave them a run early," Bruner said of last season's 2-0 sectional loss to the Eagles. "This was definitely shaping up to be a pitcher's day with the change in temperature."
It certainly was Finch's day. Other than the home run, she scattered four total hits and struck out 16 in the 3-1 win over the host Eagles in a Class 2A Lake Station sectional semifinal that was postponed a day due to Wednesday's rainfall.
"This is a huge victory," Finch said. "We've been looking forward to this game to get them back a little from last year. It's a good feeling. We were definitely motivated."
The Eagles (11-11) held a 1-0 lead until the bottom of the fifth inning, when Wheeler was finally able to mount a substantial rally. Alexa Fratzke led off the frame with a single and reached second on a throwing error. Finch belted an RBI-double and Angelise Vukin followed with an RBI- single and later scored on an error to give Finch all the offense she needed.
"I got a little bit angry and mad, and that's what got my team into it a little bit," Finch said. "Overall, I was really proud of all of them. They stepped up."
The Bearcats (16-7) survived a tough first inning defensively, when they allowed Jessa Rogers and Ashlinn Jorgensen to reach base on errors. Finch fired back in that inning to strike out the side and set the tone for the rest of the game.
"I feel sorry for the kids because they put up a good fight tonight," Lake Station coach Linda Llewellyn said. "Our lack of hitting hurts tonight. (Finch) is a good pitcher. She's got some speed.
"We really felt coming into this game we could beat Wheeler. Defensively, when we're all together and playing well, we can hang with anybody."
The Bearcats will face Whiting at 5 p.m. in today's sectional championship.