Facing a pitcher who no-hit them earlier in the year -- not to mention a No. 1 seed riding a 24-game winning streak -- might seem like a daunting task to most teams.
Most teams maybe, but not South Elgin. It's going to take a lot more than that to phase the Storm, especially the way they are rolling through the postseason.
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Batavia's Colby Green returned to the mound to face South Elgin Saturday in the Class 4A Schaumburg sectional championship game after no-hitting the same team in a 6-0 win earlier this season.
Saturday was a different story. Batavia made a couple key -- and uncharacteristic -- mistakes behind Green, and South Elgin capitalized, knocking Green out in the third inning on its way to an 8-3 victory.
The first sectional championship in school history sends the Storm (23-10) to the supersectional at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Schaumburg Boomers Stadium against Evanston.
"We knew it wasn't going to happen again," South Elgin's Tyler Brown said of the rematch with Green. "We were ready. We knew we have a lot of good hitters."
Batavia (32-4) struck first. Laren Eustace led off the first inning with a ground-rule double and scored on a single from Jeremy Schoessling, who scored later in the inning on a wild pitch for a 2-0 lead.
Justin Bryski homered to left field in the second, trimming the Bulldogs' lead to 2-1. It turned out to be the only earned run of the 5 Green allowed.
After Batavia answered in its half of the second with an RBI groundout from Eustace to score Andrew Siegler who had walked, stole second and took third on a bad throw, South Elgin turned the game around with a 4-run third inning.
Ryan Nutof was hit by a pitch to start the inning and was still at first with one out when Danny Asa grounded to second for a potential inning-ending double play.
Instead the throw went into left field, and the runners advanced to second and third.
"That's exactly what we talked about that we can't do," Batavia coach Matt Holm said. "We're trying to turn a double play to get out of the inning and all of a sudden it turns into a four-run inning."
The next batter Antonio Danesi lined a ball that Schoessling jumped to catch at second base, but the ball squirted free, and then his throw to first base with nobody covering allowed 2 runs to score on the play tying the game at 3.
After Bryski walked, No. 9 hitter Kyle Hays lined a double into the gap in right center to score 2 runs, giving South Elgin a 5-3 lead.
"He (Green) threw me a fastball that caught a lot of the plate," Hays said. "I just took it to right-center field. It's a great feeling to get the lead and being able to win a sectional. It's unbelievable."
Evan Acosta relieved Green after Hays' double, and the junior left-hander held the Storm scoreless over the next 3 1/3 innings to give Batavia a chance to get back in the game.
The Bulldogs certainly had their opportunities, especially in the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth, Dino Simoncelli and Siegler both singled, and one batter later Reagan McReynolds caught everyone off guard with a perfect bunt on a 2-strike pitch to load the bases with 1 out.
That brought Eustace to the plate, but before the Indiana-bound senior had a chance to deliver, Storm catcher Nate Brummel chased down a wild pitch and threw to starting pitcher Max Keough covering for an out at the plate on a Batavia runner trying to score.
With first base open again, South Elgin then walked Eustace intentionally and got a strikeout to end the inning.
Again in the fifth, Batavia's first two hitters -- Micah Coffey and Jacob Piechota -- singled.
This time South Elgin turned to Brown, who got a fly ball, a grounder that shortstop Dane Toppel threw home for another out at the plate, and a strikeout to again keep Batavia scoreless.
After that, Brown retired the final 6 hitters, and South Elgin made it easier on its fans with 3 insurance runs in the seventh keyed by Asa's double, an RBI single from Bryski, and a pinch-hit 2-run single up the middle from Kevin Barry.
"The kids believe in themselves right now and there's no quit in them," South Elgin coach Jim Kating said. "It just shows our perseverance in terms of being down and believing in themselves and coming back against a quality team."
Toppel led the Storm's 11-hit attack going 3-for-5. Bryski (2-for-3) was the only other hitter on either team with multiple hits.
Kating wouldn't say whether Michigan recruit Nutof would pitch the supersectional Monday on 3 days rest after he tossed a 3-hitter against St. Charles North on Thursday.
Kating preferred to talk about the roll his team is on, including a 39-4 run differential in the postseason to win the sectional as a No. 10 seed.
"For the last 20 or 22 games, we've been playing very good baseball," Kating said. "It's starting to show in the confidence, in believing in each other. The family that is starting to form is difficult to describe. I think that's why we're playing so well."
Batavia says goodbye to a senior class that won Upstate Eight Conference River and regional championships while setting a school record wins but didn't achieve its ultimate goal.
"The message is that when you set your goals that high, it's going to hurt if you don't reach them," Holm said. "You earn that right to hurt. These guys have invested so much that they have the right to hurt for a little while. Then they can take a step back and look at it and say, 'That was unbelievable.'
"How many people, how many teams have walked away at the end of the year and said, 'OK, that was a pretty good season' or, 'I can't wait to get done with the season'? These guys have invested so much that they have the right to hurt for awhile, and then they can take a step back and look at it, and go, 'God, that was unbelievable.' You know, it really was an unbelievable season with incredible seniors, incredible leadership."
Coffey echoed those sentiments after playing the final game of his stellar three-sport Batavia career that included quarterbacking the football team to this year's Class 6A state championship.
"I feel like we've earned every bit of hurt that we're feeling right now," Coffey said. "I wasn't with the guys in the winter because of basketball, but these dudes, they've been at it. They've been goal-setting and they've been working their tails off since back when last season ended.
"Over the summer, into the fall. I just can't say enough for the effort that they've put into it. And again, our coaches. The time that they've put into us and invested into us, I'm so thankful for that.
"Once it stops hurting, we'll definitely look back and smile. Doing stuff that's never been done for the school and just the memories that we made. I kind of tried to tell everybody before the game, you know, let's make a memory today, on any given day. I know I've got a bunch. Can't thank the guys enough for that."