While Batavia successfully completed a 3-game sweep of Upstate Eight River Division foe Larkin on Thursday with an 8-2 win on the road it was a bittersweet victory for Bulldogs' starting pitcher Luke Golson.
That's because the junior right-hander came within one out of pitching his first varsity no-hitter. The Royals' Michael Rodriquez slapped an RBI single between first and second base with two outs in the seventh inning.
"It does stink to get that close and then have it broken up," Golson said. "I was disappointed but at the same time it was a great win for team and that's what really matters."
It was anything but easy going for Golson, who had to contend with a very tight strike zone. He labored through 6⅔ innings, walking 7 batters along the way.
"It was a little frustrating not to get some of the calls," Golson said. "But you really don't have any control over that so I just kept on making the best pitches I could. That's what baseball is about sometimes. You work through adversity."
Golson, who threw over 120 pitches, did surrender a couple of runs with leadoff walks in the fourth and seventh innings leading to scores.
"I've never seen a pitcher have to work so hard to try to get a no-hitter," Batavia coach Matt Holm said. "It's tough to keep pounding the zone when you're not getting the calls. But he just kept battling. He did a good job of staying away and nibbling at that outside corner."
Golson, who threw a no-hitter as a sophomore, did not have overpowering stuff. He had just 5 strikeouts and only retired the side in order once, which came in the second inning, but made clutch pitches when he needed them. He also got some great support from a flawless defense. Third baseman Andrew Costigan had 5 assists, including a couple cleanly fielded plays while charging on well-placed bunt attempts. Shortstop Jared Martin also had a couple nifty plays ranging behind the second base bag to throw runners out at first. Right fielder Glenn Albanese might have had the play of the game with a sliding catch on a sinking liner in the fifth inning.
"The defense was tremendous," Golson said. "It's a great feeling on the mound to know you have guys who are going to make the plays behind you. It takes the pressure off of feeling like you have to make the perfect pitch every time."
It was Golson's first start of the season, but the high number of pitches didn't seem to affect him.
"I felt good the whole way," Golson said. "I started all of last year and with what was at stake that kept me going strong."
The Bulldogs (7-2, 3-2) took advantage of an error and manufactured a run in the first and then added a pair of runs in the second inning on RBI singles by Tyler Kledzik and Martin. Joe Burke added an RBI single in the third inning to make it 4-0. Batavia broke it open with 4 runs in the top half of the seventh inning. Luke Beckman and Kledzik each had a pair of RBI.
Zach Edgar was the starting and losing pitcher for the Royals who fell to 2-8, 0-6.
"I actually thought we made some decent contact today," Larkin coach Matt Esterino said. "But they made some real nice plays in the field and give their pitcher credit he threw the ball well. We are still learning and I'm seeing progress even though it's not showing up in the win column yet. Our approach with taking the ball the other way is one of the things that really has improved.'