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Batavia baseball hits on all cylinders, sweeps North

The Batavia baseball team – including Luke Horton (sliding) and Aaron Hurd (No. 33) – stayed busy on the basepaths during Saturday's doubleheader sweep of St. Charles North. The Bulldogs won, 16-4 and 10-6.
The Batavia baseball team – including Luke Horton (sliding) and Aaron Hurd (No. 33) – stayed busy on the basepaths during Saturday's doubleheader sweep of St. Charles North. The Bulldogs won, 16-4 and 10-6.

ST. CHARLES – Getting good production from every spot in the batting order, Batavia erupted in Saturday's doubleheader at St. Charles North to regain control of the Upstate Eight Conference River Division baseball race.

Limited to three hits in Friday's series opener, Batavia rolled to victories of 16-4 and 10-6, and was only retired in order once in 14 times at bat.

"We just kind of see our pitches. We work the count really well," Bulldogs junior third baseman Andrew Siegler said. "We just keep our hands to the ball, short and quick to it, and we were really driving the ball today."

Batavia (22-6, 16-6 UEC River) took half-game lead on idle St. Charles East (15-6 UEC River) atop the league standings. With North's Cory Wright playing first base – not dealing, as the lefty did in a complete game shutout Friday afternoon – the Bulldogs tallied 26 hits.

North (13-15, 9-12) threw its ace in the opener, but Batavia solved Illinois-Chicago -bound lefty Ankur Shah to the tune of eight runs and eight hits in five innings.

Junior left fielder Laren Eustace ignited the attack, reaching base in seven of 10 plate appearances on the day while stealing three bases and scoring five runs.

"I look to take pretty much any base that I can, whatever opportunity I can," Eustace said. "If I see a guy bobble it or anything, I'm going to go for that base, because more times than not I'm going to get the extra base. It helps the team out."

While the bottom of the order wasn't a complete mirror image of Eustace, it still did its share of grinding, with a signature sequence coming in the third inning of the nightcap.

Sixth-place hitter Aaron Hurd smacked a two-out single up the middle and advanced to second base on a passed ball with Siegler at bat. Siegler deposited an RBI single to right field, and Batavia suddenly was en route to a four-run rally.

Eustace punctuated the inning with a two-run triple, a sharp grounder that hugged the right-field line all the way to the wall.

"To come back from [Friday], that was really hard, but we came back to it," Siegler said. "Our head was there. We were definitely mentally there."

North coach Todd Genke figured Friday's game could be a springboard to a late-season turnaround.

While he lauded Batavia's approach at the plate, Genke also conceded the North Stars made their share of mistakes.

"It's kind of hard to fathom. I mean, we had a lot of momentum coming in with our big win, and I really was expecting us to come in and play well today," Genke said. "We just gave up too many free bases. A lot of things that we need to control, we didn't. Passed balls, wild pitches, just the little things that we talk about all the time. And they took advantage of it. That's what good teams do."

The pitching staffs combined to walk 13 batters and hit three in the nightcap. North's Tim Misner and Brandon Drawant both coaxed RBI walks, the latter of which brought the North Stars within 7-5 after five innings.

That created a rare tense moment, but Siegler swiftly swatted it away with a two-out, two-run single to center in the sixth.

Bulldogs first baseman Micah Coffey finished the day with five hits and five RBIs, while Robbie Bowman had four hits and drove in three runs.

North scored four unanswered runs to chip away at a 5-0 Batavia lead in the opener before the Bulldogs pulled away. Senior righty Austin Shanahan retired the final 10 North Stars after Drawant's RBI single made it 5-4 in the fourth.

"I had confidence in my team, that they were going to back me up, so those runs didn't really affect me," Shanahan said. "I knew that we were going to hit the ball. We had done that in the first three innings, and then that lead just gave me a lot of confidence with the team. I wasn't really worried about it."

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