ST. CHARLES – The Batavia baseball team secured its 19th win in a row in thrilling fashion, defeating St. Charles North, 5-2, in eight innings.
The UEC River champion Bulldogs (28-3-1 overall, 22-2-1 Upstate Eight Conference River) had to wiggle out of a sticky scenario to keep their winning streak going.
The game was knotted up at 2 heading into extra innings thanks to Batavia junior Nick Rogalski's clutch pitching. With the North Stars (21-12 overall, 15-10 UEC River) threatening and the bases loaded, Rogalski calmly pitched his team out of the jam, striking out the North Stars' Anthony Lambert and Jack Dennis to end the threat.
Rogalski is no stranger to high-pressure situations, as he remembered a game against Benet earlier in the year in which he was placed into the game with the bases loaded.
“I was thinking about that situation, and pitching what [catcher Dino Simoncelli] called. … I have a good defense [behind me] that was able to help," he said.
“He has ice in his veins. He is stone cold," added Bulldogs coach Matt Holm. "I think he actually likes being in those situations. For him to come in and do that, is not the first time he's done it. … we're real excited about what he brings to us."
In the top of the eighth, North's Cory Wright relieved Sam Hubbe after Batavia's Reagan McReynolds and Laren Eustace reached base with singles. With two on and no outs, Jeremy Schoessling laid down a bunt down the first-base line. Wright fielded the ball and tried to tag Schoessling, who was called safe, to the dismay of the North Star team and fans.
North coach Todd Genke said he thought it was "pretty obvious" the tag was made.
“I did [touch him],” Wright said. “The umpire saw something else, but I have to make better pitches. That's not an excuse for us to lose … It was definitely a momentum shift in their way.”
Micah Coffey followed up with a two-run double and Jacob Piechota with a hit that brought home Coffey, pushing Batavia's lead to 5-2, and the Bulldogs had little trouble closing out the win.
Austin Lovelady started the game for the North Stars, going five innings and allowing two runs on four hits. Nick Bleidorn started for Batavia, working four innings and surrendering one run on five hits.
The North Stars started the scoring in the bottom of the third when Luke Corcoran led off with an infield single. Cory Wright followed that up with a sacrifice bunt, moving Corcoran to second base. Lambert flied out, and then Dennis ripped a hit into center, scoring Corcoran. Dennis attempted to stretch it into a double but was thrown out.
Batavia rallied back with two runs in the fourth inning. Jeremy Schoessling led off with a single and Coffey earned a trip to first after being hit by a pitch. After stolen bases positioned baserunners at second and third, a Piechota base hit brought them both in.
The Bulldogs swept the three-game series, with Saturday's game being a makeup game from earlier this month.
Both teams await results from other games before they know their opponents for regionals next week.
“The guys are focused on day-to-day … we came out and said we'll play this [game] like a playoff game,” Holm said. "Every game is precious. We're going to play every single one of them like it's the biggest game we've ever had. This is a great group of kids.”
North hosts a regional and will play Conant or Glenbard East in a regional semifinal.
“Whoever shows up, we'll be ready to play,” Genke said.