BATAVIA – The Neuqua Valley baseball team used scoring outbursts in the first and the fifth innings to hold off a seventh-inning rally from Batavia and gave the Bulldogs their first loss of the season, 7-5, in an Upstate Eight Conference crossover Monday.
Neuqua Valley (7-3, 4-1 UEC Valley) started the game by scoring two runs in the first off Bulldogs starting pitcher Emilio Tenuta. The runs came off an RBI double by shortstop Matt Wollnik, who later came around to score on a single by catcher Alex Wolanski.
Neuqua added another run in the top of the fourth before the Bulldogs (8-1, 3-1 UEC River) started a rally of their own.
The scoring started in the bottom of the fourth when Andrew Siegler grounded to the first baseman and scored Luke Horton from third. Then, with one out, catcher Dino Simoncelli added an RBI single and later scored on a sacrifice fly to the second baseman, who made a diving, over-the-shoulder catch.
Batavia coach Matt Holm said his team showed resiliency as they responded to an early 3-0 deficit to tie the game at 3.
“If they would have added to that [lead] right away and had a bigger inning I think we would [have felt] a lot more pressure,” Holm said. “What I was worried about more was the response to that. I feel like Tenuta did a nice job to get himself out of a couple situations after that and didn’t get backed into a corner.”
But the Wildcats used timely hitting late in the game to regain the lead in the fifth with four runs off lefty reliever Jacob Piechota (2-1). Tenuta gave up three runs in 41/3 innings. After Piechota retired the first batter he faced, the Wildcats strung together five straight hits with the final blow coming from third baseman Drew Sterioti, who plated two with a single.
Trailing 7-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs started to mount a comeback.
After Colby Green reached on an error by the second baseman, Green scored from first on a triple off pitcher Matt Butler by outfielder Laren Eustace. Reliever Cody Coll came in and allowed Eustace to score on a sacrifice fly from Billy Zwick before striking out Robbie Bowman to end the game, getting his first save of the season.
Wildcats starter Johathan Vik scattered five hits and allowed three earned runs in six innings to pick up the win.
Neuqua Valley coach Robin Renner said his veteran hitters battled in the sixth to give his team the lead.
“The momentum after they scored the three runs was clearly in their dugout … but we talked about the really good at-bats that we put together in the fifth inning,” Renner said. “We have three, four seniors … that’s what they were supposed to do, and they did it. It doesn’t always happen like that but we got it done today.”
Neuqua outfielder Josh Piotrowski went 4 for 4, while Batavia’s Eustace and Zwick had two hits each.
Eustace said the seventh inning rally showed the heart of his team.
“Once they scored in the fifth, we were kind of dead for the next few innings, then we just battled back,” Eustace said. “We never gave up, we were always in the ballgame. That’s a good thing because if you’re always in the ballgame you’re going to win a lot of games.”
Batavia returns to action on the road today against Metea Valley.