Batavia's summer season came to an end Wednesday at the St. Charles East regional of the IHSBCA 2011 Phil Lawler Summer Classic, the second straight year the Bulldogs have bowed out in the semifinals.
This year, however, the Bulldogs did so after reaching a milestone coach Matt Holm and his players were quite proud of.
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No. 2 seed Rockford Harlem scored 5 runs in the sixth inning to break a 3-3 tie on its way to an 8-5 victory over No. 6 Batavia.
That left Batavia's final summer record at 21-8, a 20-win season that meant a lot to the program.
"For years we didn't have enough to get to double digits (wins)," Holm said. "For the last several years we have been pushing 20 and come just short. We were able to get it, that was one of the guys' goals. That is a nice summer record. I'm pleased."
Harlem also has a nice summer record, now 17-1 heading into Thursday's championship game at 1 p.m. against Geneva (19-9-2). Harlem reached Wednesday's semifinals with a 5-0 victory Tuesday over Kaneland.
"That was a big win to beat the 3A state champs, that was a big deal to us," Harlem coach Doug Livingston said. "And Batavia is a good team. We beat a good team today."
Harlem grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning, then only scored 1 run in the next four innings against Batavia starter Austin Shanahan. Shanahan finished with 6 strikeouts and no walks in his 5 innings. He allowed 7 hits and 3 runs.
"It seemed like we couldn't get that pitcher after the first inning," Livingston said. "He had us off-balance."
Batavia got on the board in the second inning. Danny Ritchason led off with the first of his 2 walks. Nick Pappas bunted him to second and Steve Durham singled Ritchason in.
The Bulldogs grabbed a 3-2 lead in the fifth. Billy Zwick led off with a walk. He stole second and scored on Laren Eustace's single. After a single by Sam Burnoski, Micah Coffey lifted a sacrifice fly to score Eustace.
The lead didn't last long. Harlem tied the game in the bottom of the fifth, then broke the game open with a 5-run sixth inning against reliever Luke Horton. Harlem had 4 hits in the inning, the final one a 2-run home run by winning pitcher Cody Dietz.
"I think it's typical what happens at the end of seasons," Holm said. "We ran out of pitching. Luke has done a nice job all summer long. One big inning."
Batavia scored a pair of runs in the seventh on Burnoski's 2-run single. Eustace, Burnoski and Durham each had 2 hits to lead Batavia's offense. Durham, who threw out a would-be base stealer in Tuesday's quarterfinal win over St. Charles East, picked a runner off second base.
Harlem will make what Livingston called an "hour and 15 minute trip, with construction" trip back to St. Charles Thursday for its third appearance in a summer regional title game looking for its first championship. Livingston said he has one of his better pitchers ready for the title game.
"Hopefully we can keep it going," said Livingston, whose team has won 16 straight.
games since losing its only game this summer to Rockton Hononegah.
"It's good for us to see this kind of competition and see where we're at."