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Batavia baseball sharp in fundraiser matchup with Kaneland

GENEVA – The Kaneland and Batavia baseball programs pooled admission, concession, T-shirt and other revenues Monday for a cancer fundraiser game at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.


The Bulldogs potentially have more donations in hand for three Kaneland families with members fighting cancer should the Batavia boosters contribute a fixed amount for every hit.


Batavia extended its winning streak to 15 games behind a 13-hit attack in its 10-1 victory against Kaneland. Kaneland managed only two hits in losing its fifth straight game, although both sides downplayed the result.


Accordingly, the night's biggest ovations came before Kaneland senior right-hander Curtis Thorson threw the first pitch about 7:15 p.m. Kaneland Harter Middle School seventh-grader Drew Hahn – son of Geneva baseball coach Matt Hahn – was recognized along with Kaneland baseball parent Phil Kassinger and Kaneland softball coach Brian Willis.


The three are battling various forms of cancer.


"Oh yeah, tonight's not really about playing baseball, but you'd like to put on a good show for people and do the simple things right," Kaneland coach Brian Aversa said. "And the things that you should be doing well, you should be able to do those things. It's kind of eye-opening, it's kind of embarrassing, but we've got to get back to work tomorrow."


Batavia pitchers Ryan Olson, Tucker Knox, Nick Bleidorn, Austin VanKempen and Alec Berry combined on the gem. Kaneland's lone hits were Thorson's leadoff single and catcher Sean Dunphy's RBI single in the second.


The Bulldogs (24-3-1) broke the game open against the Knights (14-14) in a six-run fourth, sending 10 to the plate.


Second baseman Jeremy Schoessling had three hits and three RBIs, while Micah Coffey, Dino Simoncelli and Matt Puttin also delivered multihit games.


"It was kind of nerve-racking in the beginning, but once we kind of settled down, we were able to play our baseball and we found it," Schoessling said.


Batavia and Kaneland traditionally have met at the Kane County Cougars' home park in past springs, with charitable efforts providing a backdrop.


This season's benefactors each assembled for ceremonial first pitches before the game started. Drew Hahn delivered to his father, Phil Kassinger pitched to son Kevin, a senior who worked a perfect seventh inning, and Willis threw to his catcher – Knights junior Paige Kuefler.


Kevin Kassinger worked a perfect inning, inducing three groundouts.


"It was a big day in honor of my father. The crowd, hopefully we raised a lot of money," he said. "Not only my father, but the other two families, as well."


Batavia and Kaneland wore special commemorative jersey T-shirts with "Kaneland Ks Cancer" on the front and players' names and numbers on the back. The Bulldogs' jerseys were red with black lettering, the Knights' black with white lettering.


Umpires sported pink polos, although some fans still greeted questionable calls with the traditional "Come on, blue!"


A sizable crowd supported the teams, with cars filling up the Cougars' premium parking nearest the stadium about 45 minutes before the game started.


"This stadium, it brings people in, so that way a lot of people can come and support the benefit," Bleidorn said. "I think it's cool that we have it here, because it makes people want to come support the teams, and it's a lot of money for the [cause]."

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