Baseball: Riser, Lake Park advance past Batavia
Lake Park's Masen Riser understood the importance of Thursday's baseball game against Batavia.
The senior pitcher wanted to rack up quality innings to extend the Lancers' season.
Riser, a senior, said he's not going to play in college, so Thursday's Class 4A Schaumburg regional semifinal could have been his last time on the mound.
Luckily for Riser, he benefited from a late-season arrival during warmups -- his curveball.
"I knew in warmups when my curveball was working that it could be a good day," Riser said. "I haven't had a lot of command with it. I knew they had a lot of left-handers in their lineup, so that got me excited. But I was nervous about this game. It was a big game and a good time for my curveball to be working."
Riser fanned eight and scattered four hits in five innings to lead Lake Park to a 7-4 win over Batavia in Schaumburg. The Lancers (18-16) advance to play South Elgin in the regional title game at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Riser (6-4) wove his way out of trouble in his last four innings, stranding seven runners on base, including the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth.
"This could've been my last game, so I wanted to give it all I could," Riser said. "It worked out for me. I'm glad to live to see another day. It was a big win."
Riser, a left-hander, helped his own cause with an RBI single to left field to ignite a 4-run third. The Lancers strung together five hits to drive in 4 runs off Batavia left-hander Brad Niedzwiedz (7-1) and seize a 5-1 lead. Niedzwiedz, the DuKane Conference Pitcher of the Year, pitched four innings.
The Lancers opened the scoring on Nic Aehlert's RBI double in the first inning. Aehlert paced Lake Park's attack with 3 hits and 3 RBI. Pinch hitter Joe Harrington blasted a solo home run in the sixth to pad the lead to 7-2.
"We knew we had a good pitcher (for us) on the mound and he was dealing early and we were lucky enough to get that first run in with two outs and getting that early lead helped our confident," Lake Park coach Dan Colucci said. "That 4-run inning we shortened up with a two-strike approach and forced them to make some plays. Masen has been steady all year, got himself out of jams and mixed up the curveball and changeup. He was crafty and in the zone and battled through some tough situations."
Down 7-2, the Bulldogs (18-14) battled back with single runs in each of the last two innings. They managed four hits in the final two innings but left three runners on base.
"We fought and battled through a lot of stuff today and I'm really proud of the guys for that," Batavia coach Alex Beckmann said. "If you are going to go down, go down swinging and we did that. We had a lot of chances and couldn't get that one hit when we needed to."