ST. JOHN | Sam Bell didn't want to give the ball up.
Munster baseball coach Bob Shinkan didn't have too many words to say to Bell when he went to the mound with the bases loaded and one out as the Mustangs clung to a 7-4 lead in the fifth inning of Tuesday's game against Lake Central.
"He wasn't saying much," Bell said. "'Do whatever you can, buckle down.' He's real superstitious. 'You got it?' he said. 'I know you're tired, but it's OK.'"
Bell struck out the next two batters, both pinch hitters meant to ruffle the senior righty as The Times' No. 3 Mustangs topped No. 5 Lake Central 8-4 in the showdown.
"(Shinkan) always gives me a chance," Bell said. "I'm at a loss for words right now, this is a great feeling. This is the first time I've beaten Lake Central on varsity. We beat them in football this year and now we beat them in baseball. Hopefully we can keep the streak going in sectionals."
Bell struck out six in five innings and his offense spotted him a 6-0 lead after the first.
"Sam Bell did an extraordinary job on the mound," Shinkan said. "I know he's a senior and he's one of our main guys. I told him this is a situation he might be put in if he's ever made a closer and to do your best. He wanted to stay out there, that's the kind of kid he is."
The Mustangs (4-1) batted around in the first, taking advantage of a Lake Central error and using a two-run double from John Pitsas. Lake Central starter Blake Bosold left the game after one inning. Of Munster's eight runs, two were scored on the first-inning error, one was on a fielder's choice and the final on a wild pitch.
"There are certain teams you can beat when you're not at your best, that's not one of them," Lake Central coach Jeff Sandor said. "That's a good team, and they're a better team than we are right now. They pitched it better than us, they caught it better than us, they defended better than us and they hit it a little bit better than us."
Indians junior Bryan Vanderlee came in for his first varsity showing and allowed two runs in the remaining six innings and struck out three.
"You can't say enough, (Vanderlee) saved our lives," Sandor said. "This could have been a five-inning game, if we have a couple more hiccups right there. We spot them six runs, and that was Bryan's first varsity start right there, and he came in against the No. 3 team in Indiana in Prep Baseball Report and he really owned them for five innings. They got two runs, one earned."
Lake Central (2-3) scattered eight hits, five for extra bases including a solo home run by first baseman Chuck Alexa.
Munster reliever Trevor Brooks struck out three in two innings, including the final two batters he faced.
"He's amazing," Bell said. "He's a sophomore and he came in with ice in his veins and ended the game with eight straight curve balls."