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Batavia baseball off to perfect start

CAROL STREAM – The Batavia baseball team wiggled its way out of several jams and got plenty of hitting during an 8-3 nonconference victory Friday against Naperville North on Lee Pfund Field at American Legion Post 76.

“We hit the ball pretty well today,” said Bulldogs shortstop Billy Zwick, who was 4 for 4 with three runs scored. “We definitely got our bats going. We have been hitting the ball well to start the season. The ball is flying off our bats right now.”

Starting pitcher Emilio Tenuta, who earned the win in his first varsity start, and reliever Austin Van Kempen combined to strand 12 Huskies, including keeping bases loaded three times as the Bulldogs improved to 3-0.

The stranded runners included a leadoff triple to start the game by the Huskies’ Nick Solak. But Tenuta didn’t flinch, retiring Ryan Krainz on a comebacker and striking out Pat Mollo and Mark Khoury to squash the early threat.

“The triple didn’t bother me,” Tenuta said. “[Solak’s] a great hitter. I left the pitch up and out and he went and hit it. It was a great piece of hitting by him. It felt good to strike those two guys out and get out of the inning.”

“A triple and we don’t get him in,” said Naperville North coach Carl Hunckler, whose team was playing its season opener. “Right away, that might be something we look back and say ‘That sort a set up our day.’ ”

After Tenuta got out of the jam in the first, the Bulldogs got on the board in their half as Zwick singled, moved to second on Micah Coffey’s single, to third on a walk by Aaron Hurd and scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Horton.

The Bulldogs added an unearned run in the fourth as Andrew Seigler singled home Horton, who had reached on an error to start the inning.

Run-scoring singles by Horton and Seigler, a bases-loaded balk and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Dean Simoncelli in the fifth inning gave Batavia a 6-0 lead.

The Huskies came back with two runs, one of them earned, off Van Kempen in the sixth, but the Bulldogs responded with two in their half of the inning as Zwick and Coffey both singled and eventually scored on a Huskies’ error.

“Some timely hitting, taking advantage of things, moving people around, smart base running,” Bulldogs coach Matt Holm said. “That’s a credit to our seniors being experienced players and being smart.” 

Tenuta allowed three hits and three walks while fanning six in his four innings of work. Van Kempen allowed three runs, two of them earned, on four hits, two walks and three strikeouts.

“I was focused on finding the zone, keeping the ball low and doing what my catcher [Simoncelli] told me to do,” Tenuta said.

Holm said what has impressed him the most about his team early this season is that Tenuta and fellow starters Austin Shanahan and Luke Horton have all thrown four scoreless innings.

“They are focusing on the things they need to be focusing on and we’re starting the way we want to start,” he said. “Our guys are pitching under a little bit of pressure and doing well, and that’s a good thing.”  

“They got some key hits with two strikes and two outs and we didn’t,” Hunckler said. “We were giving them extra outs.” 

The Bulldogs have added a nonconference game against Marmion for 11 a.m. today.

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