Batavia pitchers warm to the challenge, beat St. Charles East
St. Charles East beat Batavia in a slugfest on Tuesday. Wednesday, it looked like more of the same as on another warm evening the visiting Bulldogs took a 5-3 lead after three innings.
But the pitchers took control after that and Batavia held on for a 6-5 win. The Saints (16-5-1, 12-4) held onto their lead in the DuKane Conference, but the Bulldogs (15-7-1) stayed alive at 1½ games out with two to play.
When the Bulldogs needed a run, they called Saul: Charlie Saul. The senior first baseman had 3 hits, including a home run to right field that put Batavia ahead 6-3 in the fourth.
St. Charles East cut the deficit to 6-5 on Seth Winkler's home run in the fifth. The Saints had chances to tie the game but couldn't convert. They loaded the bases later in the fifth inning but couldn't put a run across. In the sixth the Saints put runners on second and third with one out. But center fielder Eric Newberry caught A.J. Gaca's flyball in shallow center and threw out the potential tying run at the plate.
"He's had a few of those this year," said Batavia coach Alex Beckmann. "He's outstanding out there in center field. We're a different team when he's not out there and they played a pretty clean game overall."
Batavia took an early 5-1 lead. The Bulldogs scored 2 in the first, then added 3 more in the second on consecutive run-scoring hits by Saul, winning pitcher Anthony Johnson and Kevin Niewdwiedz.
The Saints stayed close thanks to 2-run homers by James Brennan and Winkler.
Reliever Keegan Tracey kept the Saints in the game with four scoreless innings in relief of starter Caden Cotteleer. Batavia's bullpen also came through, with Nate Nazos pitching two scoreless innings for the save. He struck out the side in the seventh to preserve the victory.
"In the last game we blew a pretty good lead, we had a 4- or 5-run lead," Saul said. "We were hungry today to keep the lead. We were all dialed in and ready to shut it down."
On Tuesday the Saints came back for a 14-10 win but couldn't find the magic a second time.
"Our situational hitting was just really poor," said St. Charles East coach Len Asquini. "And we didn't do a very good job at the plate moving some balls that we needed, and in good counts, too. We had some good counts with some of our better hitters up there. So it's kind of discouraging, especially after yesterday. I thought we got out of a rut that we were in offensively."
Brennan, who went 5-for-5 Tuesday, singled and homered in his first two at-bats Wednesday. He walked in the fifth before striking out to begin the seventh.
Winkler, Dominick LeBlanc and Dylan D'Andrea also had 2 hits each for the Saints.
Newberry added a pair of hits for Batavia.