Baseball: Anderson's walk-off hit pushes Geneva past Batavia
Whether it is catching or playing virtually everywhere else in the infield, Owen Anderson evidently has to be ready for any situation.
Including the most crucial at-bat in the game.
Anderson, a Geneva junior, hit a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Vikings rallied from an early 5-run deficit for an 8-7 win over Batavia in Thursday's opener of a three-game DuKane Conference series.
Anderson came through with his first walk-off hit at the varsity level, which he said "makes it a lot more special."
"(With) two strikes, I choked up (with the bat)," Anderson said of the pivotal at-bat. "Just my standard two-strike approach and tried not to get frozen on the ball outside. Just put it in play and it worked out."
"He's been playing excellently," Geneva coach Brad Wendell said of Anderson's overall season. "He's been our utility guy doing everything for us, especially in the early part of the season when we had guys playing football (or) guys in COVID quarantine."
Anderson, who went 1-for-3 with two RBI on Thursday, has found himself catching or playing third base, second base or shortstop in various responsibilities.
"He's just stepped up for his team in many ways," Wendell said. "He's a grinder and we can trust him to do a lot of different things."
"(My season has been) going good," Anderson said. "We've been on a roll lately, but we just got to keep winning ball games and keep getting better."
Anderson said he isn't quite where he wants to be offensively production-wise, but he'll "just keep grinding" and get to where he wants to go.
Batavia (5-9, 5-8) jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI double from Austin Winslow, an RBI single from Henry Saul and a 3-run homer by Kevin Niedzwiedz.
Geneva (11-7, 9-4) got a run back on Anderson's RBI groundout in the second, but chipped away with 4 runs -- all with two outs -- in the third. Vikings starting pitcher Brian Wrenn helped his own cause with an RBI single, which was followed by another RBI single from Garrett Peters. Ryan Huskey then smacked a 2-run double to tie.
Batavia starting pitcher Alex Faron exited after after 3⅓ innings and Geneva took its first lead at 6-5 after a dropped third strike down to first base skipped into the outfield, which scored Ethan Mayer following his double. Blake Stempowski later hit an RBI single to make it 7-5.
In the fifth, Niedzwiedz tagged Wrenn for a 2-run single to tie the game. Geneva senior Aidan Sheehan came in for relief to open the sixth inning and pitched two innings of shutout ball with 3 strikeouts. In the bottom of the seventh, Peters was hit by a pitch and later stole second to precede Anderson's timely walk-off.
"That was a fun high school baseball game," Batavia coach Alex Beckmann said. "(We) let them stick around for too long. We had some chances to put (them) away and they took advantage of some of our mistakes as well. Just came up a little short; that was a great effort. That's a good team. They have had some good wins and (are) trending in the right direction."
Niedzwiedz finished 2-for-4 with 5 RBI to pace the Bulldogs' attack. Junior Austin McNamara pitched 3⅓ innings of relief, allowing 2 hits and 1 earned run with 6 strikeouts.