Jacob Piechota wanted to finish what he started.
Piechota, a senior left-hander, faced one of his bigger challenges of the day when West Chicago loaded the bases and put the tying run on first with 2 out while trailing Batavia 4-1 in the top of the seventh of Wednesday's Class 4A sectional semifinals in Schaumburg.
"I talked to Coach (Matt Holm) after the sixth inning and told him, 'I'm finishing this one myself -- I don't need bullpen help,'" said Piechota.
Holm elected to let his ace face West Chicago leadoff man Austin Kordik with the game on the line and Piechota (7-1) was up to the task, striking him out as the Bulldogs (32-3-1) held on for the 4-1 victory.
"I really wanted this game," said the Western Michigan recruit, who recorded his sixth punch out of the game on a blistering 2-2 fastball. "I did have a little extra power there. I had a lot of adrenaline going."
"I told him (Piechota) after the fifth that when you get to the third time around in the order we may go to Evan (Acosta) just to change the eyes," said Holm. "But then he had the quick inning in the sixth and I said, 'hey, you're batter to batter as long as you're doing fine."
With 1 out in the seventh, Piechota hit Tony Solis with a pitch. After a strikeout, Grant Hosticka reached on an infield error and Ryan Grant's opposite-field single loaded the bases before the Wildcats' Cinderella postseason ride ended.
"I think he got stronger," Holm said of Piechota, who struck out 3 of the last 7 batters he faced. "He threw a lot of breaking balls early and was evidently saving his fastball."
Recently, Holm has often called on his bullpen in the latter innings with Piechota on the mound.
"We feel like we don't lose anything," said Holm. "If we pull him in the fifth or sixth and pull him with a lead, his bat and first base is still in and we've got the deep bullpen. He definitely wanted it."
Batavia, which has won 24 consecutive games, grabbed a 1-0 lead when Laren Eustace sent Fred Gosbeth's first pitch of the game over the right-field fence.
"It looked real good and I let my instincts take over," said Eustace, who has hit 4 of his 5 home runs to lead off the game for the Bulldogs. "It was a good way to start off the game for us. It gives your pitcher confidence because he knows he has a lead to work off of."
The Bulldogs added another first-inning run when Jeremy Schoessling walked and advanced into scoring position on an error before Micah Coffey's RBI single.
"I think the first inning really hurt us," said Wildcats coach Dan McCarthy, whose team stranded a runner at third with 1 out in the top half of the frame. "I thought Ryan (Koester) had a good at-bat there, too. He fouled off six or seven pitches before he (Piechota) got him on strikes.
"They came back in the bottom half and Eustace hits the first pitch out of the park and we throw the ball past our pitcher. I don't know if it was nerves or what -- a little bit of tightness early and we got behind. Against a team like Batavia, you can't do that. There's a reason why they're 32-3."
Batavia made it 3-0 on Reagan McReynolds' groundout in the second before the Wildcats (18-18) scored their lone run on Connor Dall's third-inning RBI grounder.
Designated hitter Matt Puttin knocked in an insurance run with a fourth-inning single for the Bulldogs, who will face either South Elgin or St. Charles North in Saturday's sectional championship.
"We've been starting fast," said Holm. "It's those middle innings that we've got to continue to put stuff together. We actually should have (scored more runs). We ran ourselves out of a big inning there."
Andrew Siegler went 2-for-2 and reached base 3 times for the Bulldogs, while sophomore Kyle Niemiec added a double.
Hosticka and Grant had 2 hits apiece while Gosbeth went the distance for the Wildcats.
"I came into the game thinking that if Fred throws his normal game that we've got a great shot," said McCarthy. "I thought he pitched well against a good team.
"It was a great year, especially compared to where we were last year. It's a great group of seniors. They're going to be difficult to replace. They won a regional, which we hadn't done since 2006. That's something they can be proud of."