Batavia baseball eager to hit reset button
Confirming the handful of milestones his Batavia baseball team achieved Wednesday, Bulldogs coach Matt Holm simplified the situation just as quickly.
"You know what, I only want to worry about this one," Holm grinned. "It's one in a row."
Batavia enters today's Class 4A York Regional final against Willowbrook on a 21-game winning streak, and could eclipse the single-season program record for victories by beating the Warriors.
Considering the way the top-seeded Bulldogs got here – a tense, 10-inning regional semifinal win against No. 15 Bartlett – Holm's easy-does-it approach makes sense.
It also trickles down.
"We've got to have a short memory," Batavia senior left fielder Reagan McReynolds said. "Got to move on to the next game, so hopefully we can compete the same way."
Well, maybe not exactly the same. While the Bulldogs (30-3-1) grabbed an early lead against Bartlett on Micah Coffey's two-run single in the first inning, stranding 13 runners nearly took a frustrating toll.
Coffey's two-out, two-strike single in the bottom of the eighth tied the game at 4-all after the Hawks rallied for a pair of runs in the top half.
"It was just such a range of emotions I went through [Wednesday]," Bulldogs senior center fielder Laren Eustace said. "I'm on my seat, Micah's hitting with two outs, two strikes and I'm just like, 'This could be the end of the season,' And then he delivered in the clutch."
Eustace wasn't too shabby himself two innings later, reaching base on a ground-rule double and scoring the winning run on a wild pitch to Jacob Piechota with two outs.
Along with the grit of the usual suspects – Coffey (Minnesota), Eustace (Indiana) and Piechota (Western Michigan) all are NCAA Division I recruits – Holm has lauded the emergence of such "unsung guys" as senior Matt Puttin, who seized an open competition at designated hitter down the stretch.
An aspiring journalist, Puttin is thrilled he and his teammates won't have to rewrite last season's finish. The Bulldogs were the second sectional seed in 2013 but suffered a regional semifinal upset against sub-.500 Hoffman Estates.
Holm conceded "it's that first playoff game that's the pressure." Now that the Bulldogs have cleared the hurdle, they're eager to reset and keep moving.
"We're not done. We're far from done," said Piechota, a pitcher/first baseman. "We've got a lot of work to do, but one game at a time. We can't look past anybody. Respect all, fear none."