A potent offense has been fueling the Batavia baseball team's season-opening winning streak, but the adaptable Bulldogs looked equally comfortable in Tuesday's well-pitched 2-1 victory at Bartlett in the Upstate Eight Conference opener for both teams.
The Bulldogs had belted at least 10 hits in their previous 4 games, but they were limited to 4 hits by Bartlett senior ace Colin Nowak and junior reliever Doug Van Dyke. Nevertheless, the up-and-down Batavia defense made those 2 runs stand up by throwing out a Bartlett runner at home plate in the fifth inning and nailing another at third base in the seventh to complete a critical 1-3-5 double play.
The victory improved Batavia to 6-0 overall, 1-0 in conference play.
"Bartlett really put us close to a loss, but we battled through it and we battled through the weather," said Batavia ace Austin Shanahan (1-0), who struck out 5 and issued a lone walk in 6 innings. "It just seems to be the whole tendency of our season so far. It's going really good. I couldn't be happier with the start we've had."
Shanahan held Bartlett (1-1, 0-1) to an earned run on 5 hits. He took a 2-0 lead to the bottom of the fifth but was touched for a run when Sam Franco singled with one out and No. 9 hitter Justin Blanchett followed with a run-scoring double to the center-field wall.
Shanahan then survived a pair of defensive miscues by his teammates to escape with a 1-run lead. First, the jam got tighter when the Bulldogs failed to cover first base on Mike Wick's sacrifice bunt, which left runners at the corners with one away.
Shanahan then induced a two-hopper to third baseman Andrew Siegler, who fired home in time for catcher Dean Simoncelli to apply the tag to a sliding Blanchett, who ran on contact. A subsequent error on Siegler loaded the bases with two outs for 6-foot-7 Bartlett first baseman Ben Havel. However, Shanahan negated the error's importance by fanning Havel on a rising fastball.
"He didn't have anything magical; he's just real smart," Batavia coach Matt Holm said of Shanahan. "He mixes things up and changes speeds enough to be able to keep people off balance."
Bartlett threatened again in the bottom of the seventh inning against junior reliever Austin Van Kempen. Franco led off with a single, which set the stage for the game's key play. Blanchett laid down a bunt, which Van Kempen bobbled before throwing to first to nip the runner on a bang-bang play.
But the play wasn't over. Batavia first baseman Micah Coffey alertly spotted Franco aggressively rounding second base and heading for third. Coffey fired across the diamond to beat the runner by a step and Siegler applied the tag. "I'm extremely happy with my defense, especially Micah," Van Kampen said.
The gutsy attempt to take an extra base was true to Bartlett coach Chris Pemberton's preseason pledge to put pressure on opposing defenses whenever possible.
"We have some guys who can make plays for us on the basepaths and we felt we were in the right spot to do that," Pemberton said. "It didn't work out today, which is unfortunate, but we're going to continue to try to be aggressive. We want to push the issue on the basepaths."
The resilient Hawks mounted a two-out threat when Wick and Karrick singled to put runners at the corners. However, Van Kampen induced a two-hopper to third base off the bat of Ball State-bound catcher Mike Roberson, and Siegler fired to first base to end the game.
Batavia scored an unearned run in the first inning on Coffey's RBI single and moved to a 2-0 lead in the fifth on junior Jeremy Schoessling's RBI single, which scored Siegler, who led off with a double.
"It's great to be 6-0," Van Kampen said after his tension-laden save. "Couldn't feel better."