Neuqua Valley baseball coach Robin Renner refers to Josh Piotrowski as "a second leadoff hitter at the 9-spot."
Piotrowski, a junior outfielder, certainly lived up to the billing Monday afternoon as he enjoyed a perfect 4-for-4 day at the plate and helped ignite a 4-run sixth inning to snap a 3-3 tie during the Wildcats' 7-5 Upstate Eight Conference victory over host Batavia (8-1, 3-1) -- ending the Bulldogs' 8-game winning streak.
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After junior left-hander Jake Piechota (2-1) retired the first 2 batters in the top of the sixth, Piotrowski sliced a single to right field.
"It doesn't matter what the situation is, if you get on base, anything can happen in baseball," said Piotrowski.
Leadoff hitter Jeff Evak (3-for-5) followed with a single to right before Matt Wollnik (2-for-4, 2 RBI) delivered an RBI single to give the Wildcats a 4-3 lead.
Designated hitter Dylan Goss added an RBI single to make it 5-3, and Drew Sterioti capped the inning with a flare that dropped down the right-field line for a 2-run single -- the Wildcats' fifth consecutive base hit -- as Neuqua (7-3, 4-0) built a 7-3 advantage.
"The top of the order came through and that proved to be the difference," said Piotrowski. "I just try to go out there in the 9-spot and try and do what I can to get on base."
"He's one of those pesky hitters," Renner said of Piotrowski. "He uses the whole field and he can really run."
Neuqua grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top half of the first inning, as Evak and Wollnik led off with back-to-back doubles and Alex Wolanski chipped in with a 2-out RBI single to left.
"It was huge because we knew they were 8-0," Renner said of his team taking an early lead.
Batavia starting pitcher Emilio Tenuta gave up a fourth-inning run before watching his teammates tie the game in their half of the frame.
Luke Horton led off with a single and Robbie Bowman stroked a double to right-center before Andrew Seigler's RBI groundout got the Bulldogs on the board. Dean Simoncelli's opposite-field single brought home Bowman to close the gap to 3-2.
Following an infield error, Laren Eustace (2-for-3, 2 RBI) drove in courtesy runner Charlie Smorczewski to tie the game at 3-3.
"We responded well," Batavia coach Matt Holm said of his team falling behind early. "I thought Tenuta did a nice job. They're a good contact hitting team. I don't know how many times they had 2-strike hits."
Trailing 7-3, the Bulldogs made things interesting in their final at-bat.
After Colby Green reached on an infield error, Eustace ripped an RBI triple to right-center to make it 7-4. The Bulldogs pulled within 7-5 on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Billy Zwick (2-for-3), and when Micah Coffey reached on another infield miscue, the tying run stepped to the plate.
But Wildcats reliever Cody Coll retired the final 2 batters on strikeouts, putting an end to the Bulldogs' season-opening winning streak.
"They're one of the best teams we've seen this year," Renner said of the Bulldogs. "Up and down the lineup, they swing the bats and run. That's a tough combination to compete against."
Jonathan Vlk (2-0) worked 6 innings and picked up the win for Neuqua.
"I hate to see our 4 and 5 guys go down (without swinging) but that's a great pitch sequence that kid (Coll) had -- away, away and then right underneath their hands," said Holm.
"Certainly we wanted and expect to win," added Holm. "But I don't think anybody expected us to go undefeated. We'll come back tomorrow against Metea (Valley) and try to start a new streak."