Chalk up the Batavia baseball team's Saturday doubleheader sweep of host Larkin by identical 3-2 scores to pitching depth.
The Bulldogs used their top three pitchers on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in a key series against fellow defending Upstate Eight River champion St. Charles East, so they turned to relievers Ryan Olson and Mitch Boyer to start against the Royals and both right-handers acquitted themselves well.
Olson, making his first start of the season in Game 1, lasted 5-plus innings and held Larkin to 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits. He was on the hook for the loss, however, until the Bulldogs rallied for 2 runs in the sixth to make a winner of junior reliever Nick Rogalski (1-0).
Boyer (1-0) was sharp in Game 2. In his first starting assignment since taking a loss against Glenbard North on April 7, the junior pitched a complete-game 4-hitter. He limited Larkin to 2 earned runs, walked two and struck out six.
"I wanted to get first pitch strikes," Boyer said of his game plan after analyzing Larkin's lineup from the bench in Game 1. "I noticed how some of them hit a certain way, so I wanted to pitch to their weaknesses. I felt good. It's pretty easy to go out there when the defense is making plays."
The solid pitching performances improved Batavia to 12-3 overall, 7-2-1 within the UEC River. Larkin slipped to 6-11, 2-7.
"To have these guys come in and get some good innings for us and do a fantastic job for us and not miss a beat was great," Batavia coach Matt Holm said.
Larkin pitchers Tanner Gardon and Jack McCracken were equally competitive. Gardon (0-2) held the Bulldogs to 3 earned runs on 7 hits in the opener. He walked two and struck out two in 7 innings. McCracken (3-2) limited the damage in Game 2 from 9 hits, 2 walks and an error to 2 earned runs.
"For the most part we've been pitching and playing defense," Larkin coach Matt Esterino said. "If our offense keeps improving, we're going to be in a lot of baseball games and give ourselves a chance against good teams."
Batavia trailed the first game 2-1 but used a 2-run, seventh-inning rally to leapfrog the Royals. Courtesy runner Joey Gross scored the tying run from third base on Gardon's wild pitch. With the go-ahead run at third base with one out, Holm eschewed the squeeze play and let No. 9 hitter Steven Busby swing away. The junior sent a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Laren Eustace for a 3-2 lead.
"The infield was in so I was just thinking put it in play, hit it hard, try to get it up the middle or something," Busby said. "I got a pitch elevated and just tried to get a good piece of it and sent it far enough out there to get (Eustace) in."
Larkin tied the second game 2-2 with a 2 run-fourth inning, helped by a balk, a walk and an error. Batavia answered in the fifth, when Micah Coffey drilled a single through the heart of the infield to drive in Eustace, who led off with a single and stole second base.
Eustace was Batavia's best hitter of the doubleheader. The leadoff man went 5-for-7 with 2 doubles and 2 runs.