VALPARAISO | Ryan Burvan’s mind was remarkably clear.
Seventh inning, bases loaded, two outs, one strike, potential to clinch at least a share of the Duneland Athletic Conference title.
Burvan had been slumping, but his two-run single just inside the third base line broke a 6-6 tie and helped his Times No. 2 Lake Central club clinch the DAC title with an 8-6 win against No. 7 Valparaiso on Thursday.
“I was sitting fastball, and it felt good to come up with that hit,” Burvan said. “I was slumping, and the few hits I had were weak.”
The Vikings, drawing inspiration from the dedication of the center-field scoreboard to the late Tim Bishop, had come back from a 5-0 deficit to take a 6-5 lead.
“No one wanted to lose this game,” Burvan said. “Everyone in the dugout believed we were going to come back to win.”
Lake Central starter Jimmy McNamara only went two innings as the starting pitcher and left as part of a preconceived plan, but he came back for the save after pinch-hitting and scoring in the top of the seventh.
“Credit our kids,” L.C. coach Jeff Sandor said. “They earned a conference championship today.”
T he game was scoreless through three innings. A balk call that was called back by the home plate umpire after further discussion was rendered moot after Lake Central (20-1, 11-1) put four runs on the board in the fourth inning against four Valpo pitchers.
Chase Fieldhouse’s two-run double put L.C. up 4-0, and he scored after stealing third and drawing an errant throw.
L.C. left the bases loaded in the first and another in scoring position in the third against Valpo starter Rene Lozano.
Lozano laid down a bunt that turned into an error and two runs that gave the Vikings (13-8, 7-5) a 6-5 lead in the sixth. Joe Gallinatti’s two-run single sparked a three-run fourth after L.C.’s big inning.
The potential comeback would have capped a celebration of Tim Bishop’s life. The three-sport athlete died at age 20 in April 1997. His mother threw out the ceremonial first pitch Thursday and her grandson threw out the second. The team hung a temporary sign in center field, and the scoreboard will be reconstructed to permanently serve as a monument to Bishop.
“He was more than just a tremendous athlete but a fantastic young man,” Valpo coach Dave Coyle said. “Our kids played hard. When you play Lake Central you can’t get down 5-0.”