Batavia's baseball team hasn't had to play from behind too often this season.
So when the Bulldogs spotted rival Geneva a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning Tuesday afternoon and still trailed 4-1 after 4-and-a-half innings, they found themselves in some unfamiliar territory.
"We've had an awful lot of close games but we haven't played down much," said Batavia coach Matt Holm. "The last one was Metea (Valley) and we came back and won that on a sacrifice fly that Kyle (Niemiec) hit."
The host Bulldogs (21-3-1, 16-2-1) pawed their way back with a pair of fifth-inning runs, tied it in the sixth and pulled out the 5-4 Upstate Eight Conference River Division victory when senior Micah Coffey draw a bases-loaded, walk-off walk with 1 out in the bottom of the eighth.
"I was trying to get something I can lift," said Coffey, who went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks and 3 RBI. "A couple of those pitches could have gone either way but I'm glad I was patient enough to draw a walk and get the win."
"I'm proud of the way they battled," said Holm, whose team won its 12th straight and is now 7-0 in May. "We haven't had to battle from behind very much."
Junior pitcher Nick Rogalski (3-0) tossed 3 innings of no-hit ball to pick up the victory in relief of southpaw starter Evan Acosta.
Rogalski, who struck out 3 and hit 2 batters, worked out of trouble in the seventh when the Vikings (16-11, 12-10) got a runner into scoring position with 1 out.
"The funny thing is people get on but they do not score on him -- they just don't," Holm said of Rogalski. "He has been incredibly effective. He keeps the ball down and he is an incredibly cool customer."
After being held to 3 total runs in last Saturday's doubleheader losses to the Bulldogs, the Vikings jumped out and scored 3 runs in the top of the first with an up-the-middle hitting approach.
Jason Croci led off the game with a single and came across on Nick Derr's RBI triple to deep right-center. Ben Chally followed with an RBI single through the middle, and 2 batters later, Brandon Evert rapped a run-scoring single to center.
"I was really happy with the way we came out especially after the way we played on Saturday," said Geneva coach Matt Hahn. "I would have liked to have gotten that one."
"They came out swinging and real aggressive," Holm said of the Vikings. "When Derr hit that ball into 'Tripleville,' I was like, 'uh-oh,' here we go today."
Batavia cut the deficit to 3-1 in the bottom half of the frame when Laren Eustace launched his fourth home run of the season over the right-field fence.
Nate Montgomery's RBI single upped the Vikings' lead to 4-1 before the Bulldogs closed the gap to 4-3 on Coffey's 2-run, 2-out double to left-center in the fifth.
"That is something I've really tried to focus on -- hitting balls where they're pitched," Coffey said of his opposite-field hit.
Coffey's hit nearly tied the game but Chally's relay throw nailed Jeremy Schoessling at the plate to end the inning.
"I was hoping we'd get called safe on that third run but I pulled our infield in the next inning and said, 'look, that play is past us -- we've got to move on.'"
An inning later, back-to-back infield errors allowed the Bulldogs to tie the game at 4-4.
"We made some mistakes late in the game that cost us," said Hahn, whose team received a solid 5-inning start from Bret Reed. "We've got to execute better. That's a game that we need to have."
The loss may have been even costlier for the Vikings, as Derr (2-for-3, RBI, 2 runs scored, stolen base) left the game after injuring his throwing (right) hand while attempting to field a groundball in the sixth.
"I don't know -- it's pretty swollen," said Hahn. "We've had our two big pitchers go down and theoretically our 3-hitter and shortstop could be down now. We'll go with what we have and we'll compete."