ST. JOHN | On Monday, Crown Point staked itself to an early 4-0 lead; by the end of the first, three days later, that lead had vanished.
Lake Central scored four runs in the bottom of the first and eventually led 8-4 Thursday as the Indians and Crown Point played the completion of Monday’s suspended Duneland Athletic Conference game.
The Times No. 4 Bulldogs rallied for two runs in the seventh to take a 9-8 victory. Jack Vinovich delivered the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly to center field in the top of the seventh.
“It’s tough,” Crown Point coach Steve Strayer said. “I could see it in our guys; we just didn’t match L.C.’s focus. I thought we were focused on Monday, and I don’t know if it’s because we’ve been playing every night this week that we lost that. We just lost a little bit of an edge. I think we got it back the last couple of innings.”
The game resumed with Crown Point leading 4-0 with one on and none out in the top of the first. After the first three Bulldogs went down in order on Thursday, Lake Central tied the game 4-4 in the bottom of the first on two-run home runs by Johnny Gbur and Alec Olund.
“It was a hard thing to do, from our perspective, going in with a 4-0 lead,” Strayer said. “I didn’t think we handled it very well, and I think Lake Central handled it very well. I’d love to say we wanted to spot them four and make it equal so we didn’t have an advantage, but I don’t think that was the case.”
Times No. 10 Lake Central (6-6, 2-2) went on to take an 8-4 lead with four runs in the fourth, including a three-run home run by Olund, his second homer of the game.
Crown Point chipped away with three runs in the sixth, which included Mitch Kooi's two-run single, and two more in the seventh.
“The thing that I told them was that we want to get momentum back on our side,” Strayer said. “Don’t look at the score; focus on getting momentum back. Then, if we start getting momentum, maybe it gets a little tough for them. It worked out for us. I think that our guys could have folded on themselves, but they didn’t do that today and I’m proud of them for it.”
Back-to-back conference wins on the road have the Bulldogs (9-4, 4-0) undefeated in Duneland play, but Strayer feels today’s game against Valparaiso could be the most important of the season for Crown Point.
“We’ve got to win (today),” Strayer said. “We’ve got to focus on Valpo, and it’s going to be hard because we’ve had four emotional days and (today) I don’t know if they can get ready for it or not. That’s going to be the challenge, to be able to get some emotion for tomorrow. It’s going to be tough.”