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Bulldogs, Vikings grin after bearing doubleheader split

Reliever Austin VanKempen recorded the final out of the Batavia baseball team's 6-3 victory in the opener of a Saturday doubleheader against Geneva. The Vikings rebounded to win by the same score in Game 2, splitting the twin bill.
Reliever Austin VanKempen recorded the final out of the Batavia baseball team's 6-3 victory in the opener of a Saturday doubleheader against Geneva. The Vikings rebounded to win by the same score in Game 2, splitting the twin bill.

BATAVIA – Batavia baseball coach Matt Holm and Geneva counterpart Matt Hahn emerged with the same conclusion after addressing their teams on Saturday afternoon.

Splitting an Upstate Eight Conference River Division doubleheader "was a good day" in both men's words, albeit for different reasons.

Batavia followed a 6-3 victory in the opener with a loss by the same score in the nightcap. Still, the Bulldogs (19-5, 13-5 UEC River) realize they've been streaking and there's no use in being greedy.

"Our thing was this week to go 6-0 and get to 20 wins," Holm said. "And we went 5-1, so I can't complain about that."

For Geneva (14-11, 11-9) the lesson was in patience. A team that absorbed its share of early-season injuries is settling down while perhaps gaining steam as a postseason upstart one spring after the then- top-seeded Vikings bowed out in their regional opener.

"We feel like we're getting close," Hahn said. "I think we can still play better in some areas, but I think we're playing pretty good baseball right now, and I think that's why you've seen our fortunes [change] this year."

Both sides boasted solid pitching performances and hustling attacks in the victories. Batavia opened the morning with great energy – and even a few minutes before the scheduled 10 a.m. first pitch of Game 1.

Junior first baseman Micah Coffey scored twice and drove in a run on a triple. Moments after crossing the plate for the first time in the third inning – he reached on a hit-by-pitch, stole second base, took third on a dropped third strike and scored on Robbie Bowman's check-swing single – Coffey channeled his inner Energizer Bunny.

He kept going when Jacob Piechota fouled off a pitch in the next at-bat, running down the left field line to the Batavia bullpen to retrieve it.

Emilio Tenuta pitched 6 2/3 innings to get the win, exhaling when junior Austin VanKempen induced a Ben Chally flyout to left field with the bases loaded to end the game.

VanKempen, whose father, John, played in the San Francisco Giants' organization in the mid-1980s, entered after Geneva used a hit by pitch, Bobby Hess single and Dan Berendt walk to bring the potential go-ahead run to the plate.

"I think I was just getting a little nervous because it was the last inning," Tenuta said. "They were keeping up and saw me the first couple innings, so that was starting to show."

Hahn didn't fret over his offense between games, knowing Chally's shot wasn't the only out that traveled right toward a Bulldogs defender. That's why he told the Vikings, "Do not change a single thing that you're doing," as they rested in the dugout.

"We made a couple errors in the first game that hurt us, but I thought we ran the bases real well. At the plate, a lot of our outs were just line drives right at people," Hahn said. "So there's no need to change. If we were popping the ball up or hitting little dribblers or whatnot …"

Geneva struck for a first-inning run against the Bulldogs' Austin Shanahan on a Chally RBI single. Although Batavia responded with two runs in the bottom half – including a run-scoring triple from Coffey – Vikings right-hander Tony Landi calmed down and hit his spots low in the zone after that.

On the flip side, Geneva reached Batavia's Austin Shanahan for 12 hits and six runs – five earned – in 4 2/3 innings. Anthony Bragg, Luke Polishak and Hess finished with three hits apiece in the nightcap.

Landi responded again after Batavia drew to within the final margin with a sixth-inning run, retiring the Bulldogs in order to finish a complete game.

Not to mention what his coach soon dubbed a good day.

"When the guys are making plays and I'm making my pitches, it just kind of gives me that much more confidence to attack and be aggressive in the zone and not try to pick," Landi said. "So that's what I'm trying to do."


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