To give a hot-hitting baseball team like Batavia two extra outs in an inning is to invite a playoff exit.
St. Charles East led 3-1 in the top of the fifth inning of Friday's Class 4A Schaumburg sectional semifinal behind starting pitcher Stevie Podany, but the Saints precipitated their own demise by committing a pair of errors that opened the floodgates to an 8-run Batavia uprising and eventual 11-7 Bulldogs' win.
Tyler Munoz and Luke Beckmann hit solo home runs and Ben Lynam smashed a 3-run homer to extend a playoff trend of multiple home run games for sizzling Batavia (24-11). In 3 postseason wins, the Bulldogs have scored 34 runs on 28 hits, including 6 doubles and 7 home runs.
"It's bunches. It's contagious," said 24th-year Batavia coach Matt Holm, whose impending retirement from coaching again was put on hold. "We knew Steve pounds the zone and throws strikes and he's got good command of three pitches. We just had to be patient and look for a certain zone for a certain pitch because he can throw them all. Once we started doing that, things were a little better."
No. 7 Batavia (24-11) advances to its second sectional final in three seasons. The Bulldogs will face No. 1 St. Charles North (30-6) Saturday at 11 a.m., seeking the third sectional title in program history.
"It feels really good and I want to go further, not only for the town of Batavia but for coach Holm and my teammates," said Munoz, who went 2-for-4 with 3 RBI.
Munoz tied the game 1-1 in the third inning with a solo home run to left field, but St. Charles East (23-15) jumped to a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third when Podany singled with two away to drive in courtesy runner Brendan Benvenuti and Austin Gift.
The Saints turned a 6-4-3 double play in the fourth to preserve the lead, but the wheels fell off defensively in the Batavia fifth. A one-out double by Beckmann was followed by a throwing error from the Saints' third baseman that left the potential tying runs in scoring position. Munoz followed with a 2-run single up the middle to knot the score 3-3.
Batavia was far from done in the fifth. Senior Jimmy Roach and Glenn Albanese sandwiched run-scoring hits around another St. Charles East error to make it 6-3.
The Saints switched pitchers but it didn't matter to Lynam. He delivered the game's biggest blast with a 3-run home run to dead center field to extend the Batavia lead to 9-3.
"We just made too many mistakes, giving them extra at-bats and opportunities," St. Charles East coach Len Asquini said. "Then we got the ball a little bit over the plate and they got a good chunk of it, a couple of batters."
Lynam played a key role on the mound as well. The comeback-minded Saints drew within 10-7 in the sixth inning with 4 runs on 4 hits and 2 errors against Albanese (8-3), Batavia's starting pitcher. East had the bases loaded with two outs for cleanup hitter Jim Dale, but Lynam used a high fastball to strike him out swinging.
"Munoz called a high pitch and I threw it," Lynam said. "I don't like to call off. Whatever Munoz says I have trust in him."
Beckmann homered in the top of the seventh to make it 11-7, and Lynam retired St. Charles East in order to earn the save.
Batavia lost 3 regular-season games to St. Charles North by scores of 6-4, 10-0 and 10-3.
"I feel good about it," Holm said of the title-game matchup. "I felt good coming in to (Friday). I think we're going to hit."