Batavia pitcher Austin Shanahan was cruising in the Bulldogs’ Class 4A regional semifinal game against 18th-seeded Hoffman Estates Thursday in Bartlett.
Shanahan had scattered 4 hits through five innings and had retired the first two Hawks in the top of the sixth inning and had Keegan Mugerditchian down to his last strike.
But Mugerditchian battled and eventually drew a walk, and that was followed by a squibber back to the mound that eluded Shanahan and started a rally for the Hawks.
Jimmy Ward, Matt Roesch and Jeff Mayes, the 7-8-9 hitters in the Hawks batting order, all followed with RBI singles that tied the game at 4-4. Leadoff hitter Zach Hommowun then hit a ground-rule double to the right-center field corner that gave Hoffman Estates a 5-4 lead.
Ward came in to end a Batavia rally in the bottom of the seventh to give Hoffman Estates the upset 5-4 victory against No. 2 Batavia.
The Hawks will play the winner of Friday’s Bartlett-St. Charles North game at 11 a.m. Saturday at Bartlett for the regional title.
“When the bottom of the order can come through like that, good things are going to happen,” said Hoffman Estates coach Todd Meador, who picked up career baseball victory No. 200. “You generally know what to expect from the guys at the top of the order but to get those big wins against good teams, you need every guy to step up and that inning we found a way to get on base and keep it going.”
Batavia (27-7) had put together its own 4-run rally in the fourth inning to take the lead. Micah Coffey led off the inning with a single through the right side, and a single by Robbie Bowman and a walk to Jake Piechota loaded the based with one out.
Dean Simoncelli drove in two runs with double that gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead. Andrew Seigler followed with a sharp single up that middle that scored 2 more and made it 4-1.
Hoffman Estates (12-18) starting pitcher Ethan Bloom (4-3) was able to avoid any further damage and settled in, only allowing one more hit over the next two innings.
“Ethan kept it down, got a lot of ground balls and kept them off-balance a little bit.” said Meador. “Except for that one inning, I don’t think they got a lot of hard hits off of him.”
The Bulldogs started the bottom of the seventh with a leadoff double by Laren Eustace and a bloop single by Billy Zwick. Meador went to Ward to close out the game and Ward induced a double-play ball that effectively ended the rally and the game.
“Ethan was grooving and when I came in I wanted to get a ground ball for a double play, which we were able to do,” said Ward. “We’ve been playing well, this is five wins in a row for us so we’re a confident ballclub. We’ve been going out there and putting up some runs. Coach has been motivating us and giving us the right tools we knew we could fight back.”
The loss ends a strong season for Batavia much earlier than it hoped.
“It happens, I remind them every day, we respect all and fear none,” said Batavia coach Matt Holm. “We’ll play anybody, anywhere, anytime but it’s baseball, it’s not like football where you can go out and use brute force and it’s your game. It’s the playoffs and they have good pitchers and it was the bottom of their order that hurt us.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.