BATAVIA – Before the start of an important three-game Upstate Eight Conference series against Batavia, the St. Charles East baseball team collectively hit the reset button.
East came into the series against the Bulldogs having dropped three in a row and was facing a Batavia team playing as well as anyone in the Tri-Cities.
East had to sweat out a tense seventh-inning Batavia rally Tuesday but held on to take game one of the series, 3-1.
“We’ve been very close to having a perfect game, and today we got it,” East coach Len Asquini said. “We’ve been missing something here or there in all of our losses, but today we got it and it was a big time to get it.”
“It,” turned out to be a couple of timely hits in the early going for East (8-5, 4-3 UEC River) before turning to its pitching to hold on for the win.
East pitcher Adam Eck cruised through the first six innings, facing one over the minimum after the first inning, before running into trouble in the seventh. Eck fanned Kyle Niemiec to start the seventh but then walked Dino Simoncelli and allowed an opposite-field single to Andrew Siegler.
Reagan McReynolds looked to hit Eck’s next pitch off the plate but it was called foul instead. The next Eck offering hit McReynolds in the back to load the bases.
Asquini called on reliever Mick Vyzral to finish the job. The junior brandished a nasty curveball, striking out Steven Busby before getting Laren Eustace to ground out to second to end the game.
“We were trying hard not to see that guy, especially in that situation,” Asquini said of Eustace, an Indiana recruit. “It happened, we went at it and Mick got the best of him today. Hopefully we can get that tomorrow as well.”
Eck worked 61⁄3 innings, allowing five hits while nearly shutting down Batavia (9-2, 5-1 UEC River) completely to improve to 2-0 on the year. The only blemish came on a Jeremy Schoessling RBI groundout in the third that scored Eustace, who tripled to lead off the inning. After that, Eck allowed just a Niemiec single before running into trouble in the seventh.
“I was keeping the curveball low and spotting my fastball inside and outside,” Eck said. “I knew that [the top of the Batavia order] liked to chase curveballs in the dirt. I just tried to keep it outside, especially against Eustace.”
Batavia starter Evan Acosta nearly matched Eck, permitting just an earned run in six innings of work. East scored an unearned run in the second on a passed ball to score its first run before taking a 2-1 lead in the fourth on an RBI single from Alex Abate. The hit turned out to be the game-winner.
“Acosta pitched really well. That passed ball looked like the goal that [St. Louis Blues goalie Ryan Miller] gave up last night,” Batavia coach Matt Holm said. “Against a good, solid coached program like Len’s always going to have, you can’t make mistakes. In a series like this, whoever makes the most mistakes isn’t going to win.”
Acosta flirted with danger in the fifth and sixth but pitched out of trouble in both cases. In the fifth, Adam Rojas led off the inning with a single before Acosta threw just wide of first on Mike Settle’s bunt back to the mound. After both runners were sacrificed up a base by Reid Olson, Acosta struck out Brannon Barry before getting Ben Smith to line out to right to end the inning.
In the sixth, Austin Regelbrugge singled to left to lead off the inning but was stranded at second as Acosta got a weak groundout and a flare to right.
East added an insurance run in the seventh off reliever Nick Rogalski on an infield single from Smith, scoring Olson, who reached on a throwing error.
“Adam Eck was super on the mound today. He was really tough,” Asquini said. “Mick came in in a tough situation and kept his composure to get out their best hitter with the bases loaded. I’m really happy for the kids, as we had some big at-bats and some timely hits.”
Smith and Regelbrugge each had a pair of hits for East.
Eustace finished 2 for 4 with a triple and a run scored for Batavia. Acosta took the loss for the Bulldogs, working six innings, permitting just one earned run on six hits while striking out seven.