Baseball: York staves off Batavia to win second consecutive Class 4A sectional title
York coach Dave Kalal had some tears welling behind his dark-tinted sunglasses as the celebration unfolded around him.
York was moments removed from defeating Batavia 4-3 in Saturday's Class 4A South Elgin sectional final.
Their mission to repeat was obvious. The pathway forward, and the grind to achieve it, was the difficult part.
"It took us all year to figure things out," Kalal said with a voice beginning to quiver. "We had our ups and downs like every team goes through, but they developed some resiliency over the year. They knew they were good. They knew they could compete with anybody in the state.
"They knew we had the [pitching] arms to do it and it took us some time to figure out our lineup. Figure out our defense and our pitching rotation -- everything -- they just stuck with it. They wanted to get back here."
York, which fell to McHenry in a supersectional one year ago, will face Hononegah at Northwestern Medicine Field, home of the Kane County Cougars, at 6 p.m. Monday for a state tournament bid.
"They knew how close we were last year to making it to the final four, so this team is not done," Kalal said. "They want to get back."
Batavia (19-17) took an initial 1-0 lead on a solo shot from Jackson Bland in the first inning off York starter Tommy VanDaff. The Dukes (14-13-1) rebounded with a busy afternoon of traffic on the base paths. Ryan Turner led off the second inning with a triple and Matt Barton knocked him in to tie the game. Eli Maurer then walked and Brian Filosa added an RBI single for the 2-1 Dukes lead.
In the fourth inning, Paul Reedy reached on a leadoff single. Turner followed with a grounder that Batavia catcher Henry Saul scooped up and fed to first baseman Ryan Boe, but the ensuing throw to second for an attempt at a double play was offline to keep Reedy safe. Jack Rozmus responded with an RBI triple and Chris Danko added another run to make it 4-1 York to chase Batavia starter Nate Nazos.
Batavia junior Ryne Woods pounded a two-out, two-run home run in the fifth to close the gap, but a groundout ended the threat. The Bulldogs received an important lift from sophomore Connar Temple on the mound in the bottom half of that inning. York managed to load the bases with no outs against senior reliever Joe Kleist, but Temple coaxed two strikeouts and forced a deep fly out to limit the damage.
"I've caught him a lot in the season. Today, was definitely what I've seen best from him," Saul said. "I don't think he tried to do too much. He just, with the support of our teammates, and coming in a spot that can be pretty high-pressured, I think he did a great job of staying cool and working through the batters."
Temple pitched a clean seventh inning to give his team a chance, but York closer Lucas Bormann forced a groundout and had two strikeouts to end the game.
"I love being in those positions," Temple said. "I always have been since I was little. It's mainly this team; I feel comfortable with my defense and [striking] those first two guys out and the pop fly to center ...[I had a] ballhawk in center in [Andrew Gorski]. I knew he had that. Definitely not the outcome we wanted but [we gave it our best]."
Bormann, who was not on varsity last year, picked a good time to pitch some of his best work.
"It means a lot to me," Bormann said. "I put in the work and I think it's starting to show."