Luke Horton isn’t afraid to throw his breaking ball on any count in any situation.
Batavia’s senior right-hander went the distance, allowing just 5 hits with 1 walk and a pair of strikeouts, as the Bulldogs (13-2, 7-2) edged Larkin (3-8, 0-7) 4-2 to complete an Upstate Eight Conference River Division doubleheader sweep Saturday in Batavia.
The Bulldogs used an 8-run fifth to take the opening game, 10-5.
In the nightcap, Horton improved his record to 5-0 with an efficient 88-pitch outing. His only real trouble spot came during the Royals’ 2-run fifth that included singles from Dan Lenz and Brayhden Royse and Jon Lenz’ 2-run double.
“Those are actually the first runs I’ve let up this year so I was pretty upset about it,” said Horton.
Other than that, Horton never allowed more than one runner the rest of the way.
“Larry (bench coach Gay) asked me afterward, ‘how did he go from being on the ropes to a complete game, and I was like, when was he on the ropes?’” said Bulldogs head coach Matt Holm. “They strung a couple hits together there in the fifth but I never felt like he was on the ropes. We just never scored a lot of runs for him.”
Batavia staked Horton to an early 2-0 lead with a pair of first-inning runs. Laren Eustace led off with a single and took second on an outfield error before Billy Zwick lashed an RBI double to center to make it 1-0.
The Bulldogs later received an assist from Mother Nature when Micah Coffey’s infield fly was lost in the sun and went for a single before Robbie Bowman’s fly ball to left was also lost in the glare for an RBI single, allowing Coffey to score the second run of the inning.
After Horton reached on an infield error in the third, courtesy runner Charlie Smorczewski took second and scored on an errant pickoff throw to first base. One pitch later, a balk allowed Bowman to come across with the Bulldogs’ fourth run of the game.
“When we’re giving teams extra outs, no teams are good enough to overcome those,” said Larkin coach Matt Esterino. “They scored 14 total runs today and a good amount of them were unearned.”
Horton induced the Royals to hit into a pair of double plays, including a game-ending twin killing from third baseman Danny Ritchason to Jeremy Schoessling to Coffey.
“The slider was really working today,” said Horton. “We had a little crosswind which usually helps that out a little bit. It’s hitting spots, changing speeds and setting guys up.”
“He pitches backward,” Holm said of Horton. “We try to pound the zone early and get ahead in the count and he uses that early count to set some things up.”
John Jowaski (0-1) suffered the loss for the Royals.
“It was his first start,” Esterino said of Jowaski. “He battled for us and kept us in the game.”
In Game 1, Eustace (2-for-3, 2 RBI) ignited the Bulldogs’ 8-run fifth with a solo home run that caromed off the back of the football bleachers in right field. Jacob Piechota capped the inning off with a 2-run triple.
Austin Shanahan (3-0) went 6 innings for the Bulldogs before Eustace pitched a scoreless seventh.
“It was a good opportunity for us to bring in Laren,” said Holm. “That was his first time on the mound in a game this season.”
Aaron Hurd (1-for-3) and Andrew Siegler (2-for-4) each drove in 2 runs for the Bulldogs, while Rob Bond had 3 RBI for the Royals. Jack McCracken (2-2) was the losing pitcher.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.