No. 8 Batavia dodges disaster, rallies past Bartlett in 10

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

ELMHURST, IL – No. 8 Batavia, who entered Wednesday’s Class 4A York Regional semifinal on a 20-game win streak, was on the brink of another shocking first-round departure. Bartlett mounted a two-run lead in the eighth inning, and was down to its final pitch before Batavia tied it on Micah Coffey’s double in the eighth inning.

Two innings later, Batavia ultimately dodged its second straight first-round upset when Laren Eustace scored on a wild pitch to give the Bulldogs a thrilling 5-4 victory in 10 innings at York HS.

Eustace, Batavia’s ultra-fast leadoff hitter, delivered a one-out double down the left-field line, and advanced to third on a groundout. Then, with two outs and the skies darkening, a breaking ball skipped by the catcher and Eustace dove around the tag on the backside of the plate to steal the victory from Batavia (14-17).

“At first I didn’t see it, and the coach just told me to go,” said Eustace, an Indiana recruit who finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored and was hit by a pitch. “I had a pretty good slide. If I would’ve slid straight on I would’ve been out.

“It was such a range of emotions in the game. I was on the edge of my seat. … Wow, is all I can say.”

Eustace, however, was far from the only hero for Batavia (30-3-1), which will play the winner of York-Willowbook on Saturday. Coffey, Batavia’s left-handed hitting third baseman, ripped a two-run single in the first inning to give Batavia a 2-0 lead – and its only runs until the eighth inning. Then in the eighth, with Bartlett leading 4-3, Coffey worked the count to 3-2 before the Minnesota recruit delivered a double right inside the first-base line to score Jeremy Schoessling with the game-tying run.

“Getting into a 3-2 count forces me to swing,” said Coffey, who was also intentionally walked and was hit by a pitch. “I knew I put the time in to get me ready for that situation.”

Oh, but there was more drama to be had. The resilient Hawks rallied in the top of the 10th when junior catcher Jordan Flint led off the inning with a single. Two bunt attempts on consecutive batters got Flint to second before relief pitcher Doug Van Dyke ripped a sharp single to left field. Batavia left fielder Reagan McReynolds came up firing and delivered a perfect strike to catcher Dino Simoncelli to gun Flint down at the plate and end the inning.

Junior left-hander Evan Acosta pitched 2.2 stellar innings of relief to earn the victory. Acosta came into a first and second, one-out situation after Bartlett had already scored two runs to make it 4-2. Acosta proceeded to get consecutive strikeouts to escape further damage.

Another unsung hero for Batavia was shortstop Andrew Siegler, who made 10 putouts without making an error, including a few deep in the hole in which the Judson recruit showed off some impressive arm strength. He also turned two inning-ending double plays. Batavia starting pitcher Jacob Piechota also had two hits, including a double, and threw five shutout innings before Bartlett broke through in the sixth.

Batavia’s late-inning rally spoiled a gutty performance by Bartlett starting pitcher, sophomore Joey Roberson. After a shaky first inning, in which the 6-foot, 180-pound left-hander yielded two runs, two hits, one walk and hit one batter, Roberson blanked the Bulldogs for the next six innings on a steady diet of off-speed pitches. Roberson was finally lifted from the game after Matt Puttin’s leadoff single in the bottom of the eighth.

Left-handed hitting senior left fielder Jake Barrutia went 4-for-5 with a RBI and run scored for Bartlett. Senior second baseman Cal Fanselow went 3-for-3 with two RBI, including a suicide squeeze in the top of the eighth to break a 2-2 tie. After the squeeze, Roberson followed with a run-scoring single of his own. Flint also added two hits for Bartlett.

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