The drive to defeat rival Geneva has inspired generations of Batavia athletes, but Thursday's 11-1, six-inning romp held special meaning for the Bulldog baseball team beyond the completion of a 3-game sweep.
After 24 seasons, retiring Batavia coach Matt Holm matched wits with his school's chief nemesis one last time and came away a big winner.
Once Batavia right-hander Luke Golson completed his 3-hitter by inducing a flyout to right field, Holm met his pitcher midway between the mound and the first-base line to congratulate him. A handshake became a hug.
"It feels almost like a privilege to be playing for him each time there's a last time," Golson said. "I think that's a big motivator. You want to end it the way he would want to end it."
Holm couldn't have penned a better script for his final game against the Vikings, who dropped to 16-9 overall, 12-6 in the River Division of the Upstate Eight. Batavia (13-8, 8-7) outhit Geneva 10-3 and drew 8 walks.
For the series, Batavia outhit the Vikings 33-13 and outscored them 33-7.
"I just said thank you," Holm said of his postgame message to his players. "I mean, that's a way to go out. Obviously, there's more highlights I want to have before it's over, but that's a nice one."
Geneva starting pitcher Mitchell Merges limited the Bulldogs to 2 hits through 3 innings but his outing unraveled in the top of the fourth when he allowed 7 runs on 5 hits, a walk and a hit batsman.
Batavia loaded the bases on singles by Kyle Niemiec and Glenn Albanese, Jr. and a walk to Andrew Costigan. No. 8 hitter Tyler Munoz then delivered the first run of the game with a sharp single to right field.
The Bulldogs added runs on Jared Martin's sacrifice fly and Jimmy Roach's run-scoring single to take a 3-0 lead, but the big blow came two batters later when left-handed hitting senior Tyler Kledzik stepped to the plate. The 155-pound second baseman turned on a Merges pitch and sent it over the right-field fence for a 3-run home run, his second homer of the series and fourth of the season.
"I just got a good pitch to hit and tried to hit it hard somewhere," said Kledzik, who fueled up on Fruit Loops Thursday morning.
Batavia added 4 runs in the sixth to take an 11-0 lead. Niemiec (2-for-2, walk) and Ben Lynam (1-for-2, walk) each belted 2-run doubles.
The Vikings scored their only run in the bottom of the sixth when Batavia committed one of its 3 errors, but Golson stranded runners at first and third with a flyball to end the game early via the 10-run rule.
The loss was the third straight and fifth in seven games for the Vikings, who prior to that stretch had won 6 straight.
"This two weeks was the toughest part of our schedule," Geneva coach Matt Hahn said. "We've got two weeks here to right the ship and get ready for the playoffs. If we can win 6 of 8 or whatever number you want to put on it, going into the playoffs, we're knocking on the door of 20 wins again. Then I like our chances with the top end of our pitching rotation."
Dylan Baer, A.J. Hostman and Vince Pray had Geneva's only hits.