Eustace's perfect day lifts Batavia
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Batavia junior Laren Eustace said he'll do whatever he can to help his team win.
Eustace then went out and did just that in a 9-5 victory over Streamwood that keeps the Bulldogs (24-6, 18-6) a half-game ahead of St. Charles East in the tight Upstate Eight Conference River Division race.
Batavia's leadoff hitter, Eustace went 4-for-4 at the plate. He ignited a 7-run first inning with a bunt single, and later in the inning drove in a run with line drive to left.
Eustace singled again in the third inning and capped his first 4-hit game of the season with an RBI single in the fifth after the Sabres had trimmed Batavia's 7-0 lead to 7-5.
"He's able to lay down bunts and can get on in a variety of ways," Streamwood coach Ryan Lasota said. "He kind of gets them going and they follow his lead. He's a tough out."
Eustace was just as tough on Streamwood (5-21, 5-19) in his 2 2/3 scoreless innings on the mound in relief of Jake Piechota, striking out a pair and scattering two singles and a walk.
Streamwood had the tying runs on base in the fifth inning with two outs when Eustace got Troy Caminitti to ground out to third baseman Andrew Seigler.
"Anyway I can help the team out is a good thing to do," said Eustace, who can hit 84 miles an hour with his fastball, a pitch he relied on heavily Wednesday while working on getting better control of his curve.
Streamwood, which also fell behind 8-0 in the first inning Tuesday against Batavia, battled back Wednesday. Starter Matt Kozma settled down after the opening inning, throwing three scoreless innings to give his offense a chance to catch up.
"Matt started getting strike one over," Lasota said. "We're kind of thin on pitching and a lot of games this week so we needed him to give us some innings."
The Sabres began chipping away at the Bulldogs' early lead in the second. Eric Hamlin's 3-run double cleared the bases, though he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple on a perfect relay from right fielder Aaron Hurd to shortstop Billy Zwick to Seigler at third.
Hamlin also singled and scored on Jeff Weaver's RBI triple in the fifth. Michael Murawski singled in Weaver to make it a 7-5 game.
"These guys have beat people," Batavia coach Matt Holm said, pointing to the Sabres' upset of St. Charles East last week and a 10-run win over St. Charles North. "We're very guarded. They hit the ball. They are aggressive hitting the ball."
Micah Coffey drove in Batavia's first two runs with a single to right field. Seigler ripped a 2-out, 2-run double to make it 4-0, and a single from Jeremy Schoessling scored a fifth run. Batavia capped the seven-run first on Eustace's single and then a wild pitch to plate Schoessling.
But Batavia only scored two more runs the final five innings, both in the fifth.
"The thing we need to work on is keep the intensity going," Eustace said. "It shows we have to keep the intensity up and keep it going. That's what we have to do in the playoffs. We have to put teams away."
Luke Horton also had a multihit game for Batavia going 2-for-3. The Bulldogs finish the series Thursday at Streamwood, and a win will clinch a conference championship.
St. Charles East could share that title by beating Larkin Thursday and then winning a suspended game with St. Charles North.
"We don't care what St. Charles does," Holm said. "We had our chance to play them. We have to do what we have to do now."
Hamlin led the Sabres going 2-for-4 with 3 RBI. Michael Smith and Kevin Sojda both added 2 hits.
"We're trying to get momentum going into regionals and obviously playing a great team like Batavia is a great tuneup," Lasota said.
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