GLEN ELLYN – Batavia junior Glenn Albanese struggled in throwing his breaking ball for the first five innings during a Class 4A Glenbard West Regional semifinal against Conant on May 26.
The Cougars barely could hit his fastball, anyway, so it didn’t make much of a difference.
Albanese enjoyed some early run support, survived one bad inning and stuck out nine while scattering five hits in a complete-game effort as Batavia beat Conant, 10-3.
With the victory, the Bulldogs advanced to the May 28 regional championship against Glenbard East.
"Even during my bullpen when I was warming up I couldn’t find my curveball,” Albanese said. “It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth inning that I found my release point. So it wasn’t the perfect game for me. I made some mistakes, but our guys picked me up with the bats and our fielders made great plays behind me.”
Batavia had its bats going early and often.
Kyle Niemiec got things going in the first inning with a solo home run, while Tyler Munoz’s RBI double and Jared Martin’s run-scoring single made it 3-0 after two innings.
“I always feel confident with Glenn out there, and to get the support for him like we did always helps,” Bulldogs coach Matt Holm said. “We had a scouting report on (Conant starting pitcher Matt Mills) and knew he didn’t strike out or walk a lot of kids but pitched to contact. We wanted to be aggressive and hit good pitches, and I think we got a few of them.”
The Bulldogs got most of them in the bottom of the third inning. Ben Lynam delivered the first big blow with a two-run double to left field before coming around to score on Luke Beckmann’s two-run home run down the right field line.
“I squared it up pretty good and was actually trying to go (opposite field) there, but I pulled it,” Beckmann said. “It was nice to break things open then. It was the second time we got to see him (through) the order, and we all tried to hit the other way and when you have that approach good things can happen.”
Jimmy Roach’s walk with the bases loaded increased Batavia’s lead to 8-0, and the Bulldogs appeared as if they might close out the game in as little as five innings, but the Cougars fought back.
Conant scored three times in the top of the fifth to make it 8-3, but Albanese began to find his breaking pitch and only allowed an infield single the rest of the game.
“He found his breaking ball after that, which he needed to do because they were sitting on the fastball,” Holm said. “That changed everything late in the game. He has struggled with that a bit this season as far as locating it, but he made his fastball work for him and he found that other pitch as the game went on.”
Batavia added some insurance in the bottom of the sixth, receiving an RBI infield single from Munoz and a run-scoring base on balls to Joe Cook to make it 10-3.
Albanese then made quick work of the Cougars in the seventh, ending the game on a strikeout.
“We knew with Glenn on the mound if we put some runs up early he’d be able to shut them down,” Beckmann said. “He did that and it all turned out in our favor.”
Looking ahead to the regional final, the Bulldogs have already faced the Rams earlier this season, dropping a 7-1 game in which all the runs they allowed were unearned. They’ll look for a better result with a regional title on the line, which is far more than an early-season Upstate Eight Conference game.
“We didn’t play our best game the last time we played them,” Beckmann said. “We owe them a good one.”