ST. JOHN | Steve Fulk had a bit of an epiphany this week.
The Lake Central senior had been struggling at the plate before the last few games when he realized he needs to relax, stop worrying and clear his head.
On Thursday, he hit a two-out triple to clear the bases and break open a tight Duneland Athletic Conference game with Merrillville that the Times No. 3 Indians went on to win 8-4.
“I just went up to the plate trying to put the ball into play,” Fulk said. “I mean, it’s cold, so a ball on the ground is hard to field. I put the ball in play, and good things happened.”
Fulk’s fifth-inning triple down the right field line scored teammates Alex Mantel and Tony Schneider -- both of whom had reached base with two outs -- as the Indians (12-5, 6-3) turned a 5-4 lead into a 7-4 advantage. Fulk then scored his second run of the game on a Ryan Burvan smash single.
The No. 9 hitter in the lineup, Fulk said he’s honed in on putting the barrel of the bat on the ball. Merrillville had made all four of its errors by that point, so Fulk liked his chances.
“It’s great -- Steve's been pressing lately, but the last few days he’s really swinging it,” L.C. coach Jeff Sandor said. “We’ve got to get better from five through nine in the lineup, and today was a step in the right direction.”
Blake Bosold got the win on the mound, going five innings with seven hits and three earned runs allowed for the Indians. He got touched for three runs in the top of the fifth, though it could have been worse.
Merrillville’s John Burns had singled leading off the fifth, but after he made a turn into fair territory Fulk, playing right field, threw quickly to first to get Burns tagged out.
“You always have to have those heads-up plays,” Fulk said. “You’ve got to be in the game the whole time.”
Five of Lake Central’s runs came with two outs in their respective innings.
“We’re starting to play better at the right time,” Sandor said.
Ryan Burvan had three singles and scored twice, then pitched the final two innings.
Merrillville’s Jon Feliciano was the tough-luck loser for the Pirates (6-10, 3-6). He struck out three in a nine-hit complete game, allowing five earned runs and three unearned.
Aaron Dye had two hits, two RBIs and three stolen bases for the Pirates, who stranded runners in scoring position in the first, third, sixth and seventh innings.
“We’re at the point now where we’re getting guys on base, and we’ve got to get them home,” Merrillville coach Mark Schellinger said. “We’ve got pieces there; we’ve got to start putting them together. We’re in too good a conference to not be sharp.”