Having been held scoreless by St. Charles East pitching for 16 consecutive innings, things didn't look too promising for Batavia's baseball team after falling behind 4-0 early Wednesday afternoon.
But the Bulldogs (14-3, 8-3) showed their resilient side, staging a 3-run, 2-out rally in the fifth inning to tie the game at 4-4 before scratching across the go-ahead run without the benefit of a base hit in the sixth on the way to a 5-4 Upstate Eight Conference River Division victory in Batavia.
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It didn't come without some nervous moments in the top of the seventh.
The Saints' Anthony Sciarrino led off with an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error. After issuing a 1-out walk to Jack Dellostritto, Bulldogs starting pitcher Austin Shanahan then walked pinch-hitter Sean Dunne on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases.
"I was a little worried," admitted Shanahan. "I felt like a few of those pitches were close so I was a little upset."
As if the task wasn't daunting enough, Shanahan now had to face the heart of the Saints' batting order -- Nicholas Erickson and Joe Hoscheit.
"Erickson hits the crud out of the ball," said Batavia coach Matt Holm. "And while he has struggled (this season), Joe's (Hoscheit) not somebody you're going to make a mistake to."
Shanahan (4-0) retired Erickson on a foul pop to catcher Colby Green for the second out.
"I had Hoscheit coming up which was nerve wracking because he's a good hitter," said Shanahan.
On the fifth pitch of the sequence, the senior right-hander fired a fastball that caught the inside corner for a game-ending called third strike.
"I was surprised that I got that pitch by him," said Shanahan, who walked 5 and fanned 6. "They were crowding the plate so coaches were telling me to back them off the plate and try and get as much of the zone as you can.
"That's really what helped me beat these guys today was the inside pitch."
Two pitches before the strikeout, Green helped save the day when he made a nice stop behind the plate of a breaking ball in the dirt.
"I was flabbergasted that he got his mitt out there and stopped that ball," Shanahan said of his batterymate.
Saints coach Len Asquini couldn't have asked for a better situation in their last 2 at-bats.
"What high school, collegiate or professional team would not like their odds when they get their numbers three and four hitters up with the bases loaded and one out," said Asquini. "I thought we had a real good chance of tying the game up there.
"It didn't happen today -- tomorrow it will."
Batavia's 3-run fifth began with Laren Eustace's 2-out bunt single and included Luke Horton's 2-run single and Robbie Bowman's game-tying RBI single off of reliever Mike Boehmer (1-3).
"He knows he needs to incorporate a little more of that in his game," Holm said of Eustace. "He's trying to drive the ball which is great but we also know that when he gets on base it's a double."
St. Charles East (10-6, 8-3) had 4 of its 7 base hits during a 3-run first that featured back-to-back-to-back RBI singles from Brian Sobieski, Nick Huskisson, and Erik Anderson. The Saints added their fourth run in the second on Dellostritto's RBI groundout.
"I thought we did a great job those first two innings and then we went stale there," said Asquini, whose team lost a similar 6-5 decision (when the Bulldogs had a 5-run seventh) to Batavia last year. "Our defense kind of failed us here today."
After losing the first 2 games of the elongated series, the Bulldogs salvaged the much-needed Game 3 win.
"We couldn't afford to lose this one," said Shanahan.