After a bizarre seventh inning that helped catapult the Batavia baseball team to a come-from-behind 4-3 win in 9 innings in Streamwood on Thursday, Bulldogs coach Matt Holm couldn't have been more spot-on with the fact that there's meaning to the phrase "Battling Bulldogs."
Batavia (25-9, 19-6) could have watched its share of the Upstate Eight River championship evaporate being down 2 runs after 5 innings to the Sabres.
Instead, Batavia endured everything you could imagine to get its share of the title, even if it resulted in a new baseball injury in the process.
In the midst of 3-straight singles in the seventh by Billy Zwick, Micah Coffey and Luke Horton that knotted things at 3 to force extras, Jeremy Schoessling was called out at the plate advancing from third on a throw from Matt Harding in left that appeared to be the wrong call after Coffey singled.
And when the Sabres could have renamed themselves the Streamwood Spoilers, Horton's clutch single with two outs tied the game and subsequently gave Andrew Siegler a cut on his forehead in the dugout, which stopped the game momentarily, that he'll never forget.
Siegler was so pumped he clocked his forehead on the dugout ceiling, resulting in a nasty gash. Trainers stopped the bleeding and the junior celebrated with his teammates after a ninth inning featured Laren Eustace scoring the winning run after he doubled and then scored on Coffey's sacrifice bunt.
All in all, to say the Bulldogs were or are "battling" is sufficient, but it was more than that to Holm.
"Stressful," said Holm. "(We) start pressing, they're not as focused, things start spinning in their minds so to overcome that and win one -- we've won most games that are pretty easy but to have to battle it out is good for us going into the playoffs.
"Three out of the last five years -- last two years it was looking like you're not Upstate Eight caliber. That was our goal at the beginning of the year to say, 'hey, now that's a wrong assessment of the Bulldogs.' We are where we should be right now."
"I guess I have a memory to go with this game," said Seigler. "I'll probably never forget this. Ot's my first year on varsity and we're conference champs."
Both starters got through some jams early on in what was initially a pitching duel. Batavia's Austin Shanahan pitched out of a bases-loaded second by striking out the side and the Sabres' Jeremy Campbell managed to get Horton to hit into a 5-2-3 double play to end a Batavia bases-loaded threat in the third.
Streamwood had two baserunners on in the third and the bases loaded in the eighth as well and but couldn't get any across.
"We missed a lot of golden opportunities," said Sabres coach Ryan Lasota. "Three or four times we had runners in scoring position in four different innings with less than two outs, we just couldn't get one in and shot ourselves in the foot in that aspect."
Streamwood's Eric Hamlin had a double and an RBI while Chad Caminitti was 2-for-3 with a double a sac bunt RBI.
Batavia got on the board in the fourth when Siegler singled up the middle to score Robbie Bowman for a 1-0 lead. Streamwood put forth 2 in the bottom half and 1 in the fifth when Caminitti squeezed Jeff Weaver home for a 3-1 lead. Batavia had a threat in the sixth but managed only and run and then Colby Green's bunt turned into fly out at first and a double play. But Batavia inched runs across in the clutch in the seventh and ninth.
"The thing about this team is that we never give up," Eustace said. "Even when we were down, we knew we had a chance to win the game."
Austin VanKempen pitched 2 innings of relief for the win but Shanahan went 7 and gave up 3 runs on 9 hits and 8 strikeouts.
Jordan McFeggen earned the loss in 2 1⁄3 innings, giving up 1 run on 2 hits. Campbell gave up 3 runs on 7 hits while fanning 2 in 62⁄3 innings.