GENEVA – Batavia senior pitcher Luke Horton said he was “ecstatic” with Tuesday’s big win against Geneva.
And that was before Horton found out the other half of the Bulldogs’ good fortune.
Batavia moved into first place in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division thanks to its 13-4 win against Geneva, coupled with St. Charles East’s upset loss to Streamwood.
The Bulldogs (20-5, 14-5 UEC River) and Saints (16-9, 14-6 UEC River) appear destined to battle it out to the finish for the conference title.
“We’ve just got to win out and hope the baseball gods are in our favor,” Horton said. “Geneva’s always big, but within the big picture, this was a huge game for us.”
The victory gave the Bulldogs two out of three in the series, which began Saturday with a doubleheader split.
Horton (7-0) was solid on the mound with a complete game effort and also thrived offensively, walking three times and doubling twice.
“They’ve been playing against me all my life so they know what I like and what I don’t like,” Horton said. “So they were really pitching to my weaknesses today, and they were missing a lot of their spots, so I got pretty fortunate just to get to stand there and get to first base.”
Horton’s first walk was the third Bulldogs free pass in the top of the first as Vikings starter Brock Chenier struggled with his control. All three scored in the inning as the Bulldogs grabbed a quick 3-0 lead.
A Laren Eustace RBI single made it 4-0 Bulldogs in the second inning before Geneva left fielder Matt Guenther’s two-run home run to center field cut the Vikings’ deficit in half in the bottom of the second.
But the Bulldogs broke the game open with three runs in the fourth and four runs in the fifth, punctuated by a two-run home run by junior first baseman Micah Coffey, to take a commanding 11-2 lead.
In addition to Horton, Eustace (two hits and a walk) and second baseman Jeremy Schoessling, who reached base in all four of his at-bats, sparked the Bulldogs. Schoessling bats at the bottom of Batavia’s order.
“A lot of times opposing pitchers will throw just all fastballs to the 9 hitter,” Schoessling said. “I just look for that, and try to take the ball the other way.”
Bulldogs sophomore catcher Matt Musielak left the game with a thumb injury after a collision at home reminiscent of the one that resulted in a fractured thumb for original starting catcher Dino Simoncelli earlier in the season. Batavia coach Matt Holm said juniors Reagan McReynolds and Colby Green are viable options behind the plate if Musielak has to miss time.
Vikings coach Matt Hahn hopes the showing by Geneva (14-12, 11-10 UEC River) – featuring defensive miscues and troubles on the pitching mound – was a one-day regression, considering the Vikings have played better ball lately.
Still, Geneva had a handful of highlights, namely Guenther’s blast to center field, a two-run double by Ben Chally (2 for 2, walk) and an outstanding throw by right fielder Dan Berendt that retired the speedy Eustace attempting to tag up from second to third base.
“The combination of the throw and to throw that kid out, that’s pretty impressive,” Hahn said.
Also on Tuesday, Batavia learned it is the No. 2 seed in the 20-team, IHSA Class 4A St. Charles East Sectional. East is the No. 4 seed, Geneva the No. 6 seed and St. Charles North the No. 10 seed.