Pitching with a heavy heart due to his grandfather's death earlier this week, Colby Green didn't let his emotions get the best of him Saturday afternoon.
The senior right-hander tossed a 1-hit complete game to help lift top-seeded Batavia (31-3-1) to an 8-1 victory over ninth-seeded Willowbrook (21-12) in the York Class 4A regional championship in Elmhurst.
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Green (7-0), who threw no-hit ball for the first 5 2/3 innings before giving up an RBI double off the bat of Mike Rothmund, struck out 7 and walked 3 during a masterful performance that undoubtedly would have made his grandfather proud.
"I was pitching for him," admitted an emotional Green after sealing the decision with a fly ball to Reagan McReynolds. "I knew he'd want to be here so I was really pumped when I got the last out. I'm leaving for Oklahoma right after this (for the funeral)."
Batavia coach Matt Holm was impressed with Green's fortitude under trying circumstances.
"He's pretty focused when he's pitching anyway," said Holm, whose team captured its first regional title since 2009. "He had a mission today. He came out and told me yesterday before practice. Playing for somebody -- he was fantastic."
Green, who fired a no-hitter against South Elgin earlier this season, relied primarily on his fastball and a split-fingered change-up to stymie the Warriors.
"I threw two curveballs," said Green. "The rest were splitters and fastballs. The guys got me some runs and made the plays behind me."
Batavia jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first as Laren Eustace (3-for-4) led off with a single and came across on Micah Coffey's infield single.
The Bulldogs added 3 more runs in the second against Warriors left-hander Jeremy Knable (4-4) -- 2 of which were unearned due to a pair of throwing errors.
"We threw it around," admitted Warriors coach Vic Wisner. "The errors we made were uncharacteristic."
Senior Jeremy Schoessling drove in the Bulldogs' third run in the second with an RBI double after Eustace's triple.
Schoessling, who added a run-scoring sacrifice fly in the fourth and an RBI triple in the sixth, went 2-for-3 with 3 RBI as he continued to excel since moving up to the 2 slot in the batting order early in the season.
"Getting up there has given me a lot of confidence," said Schoessling. "They're not going to want to throw to Laren or to Micah, either, so I'm going to get a lot of strikes."
"I think sandwiching him between Micah and Laren -- you've got to pitch to this guy," said Holm. "He has taken a huge advantage of it.
"He's hitting over .400," added Holm. "When they took the juice out of these bats a couple years ago, those averages just dropped. For a kid to maintain and hit over .400 through the season like that is impressive."
The Bulldogs' first 3 hitters -- Eustace, Schoessling and Coffey -- were 7-for-11 with 3 triples, 2 doubles and 6 RBI.
"Those kids are not afraid to get deep in the count," said Wisner. "A lot of them were 2-strike hits. You miss a little bit with Laren and Micah and they make you hurt no matter where you are in the count. That does put a ton of pressure on your pitcher."
Spotted to a 6-0 lead, Green felt little pressure despite losing his no-hit bid and the shutout in the sixth.
"I'm glad Coach Holm gave me the chance to come out in the seventh," said Green. "He told me I was batter to batter but I was going to finish this thing."
Batavia will now carry a 23-game winning streak into Wednesday's sectional semifinal game against West Chicago (17-16) at Schaumburg.
"We're not taking anyone lightly," said Eustace. "Our goal is to go out there and have fun. I love these guys."
Rothmund reached base twice for Willowbrook, which topped the 20-win mark for the fourth consecutive season.
"It (the loss) doesn't taint the year at all," said Wisner. "We started out really well at 9-2 and then we hit a little lull against Downers (Grove) South. We got up to 14-6 and hit another wall with Hinsdale South. I challenged the kids to turn it around and we won 7 of our last 8 (before today) and we played errorless ball."