GLEN ELLYN – Tyler Kledzik put rest and extra hitting above playing Xbox with friends, and his Batavia baseball teammates are glad he did.
The senior second baseman hit a three-run homer during an eight-run Bulldog third inning en route to a 13-8 victory over Glenbard East in the IHSA Class 4A Glenbard West Regional title game on May 28.
Kledzik said he had friends over after the team's baseball awards night May 27, but after awhile headed to bed, leaving his friends to play the game console in his absence until his parents got home. He said he wanted to be ready for the regional championship and to that end, had scheduled a lesson with his hitting coach for 7 a.m. on game day.
“I think it helped,” Kledzik smiled about his day that, along with the key long ball, also included a single, walk and two runs scored.
Kledzik said he was able to drive a fastball out of the yard.
“(Glenbard East’s Jake Heyman) was throwing everyone fastballs until he got one strike on them,” the Batavia senior said. “I was able to hit one hard.”
His homer capped off the huge Bulldog third inning, which included a leadoff home run by left fielder Kyle Niemiec, a two-run single by Andrew Costigan, an RBI single by Jimmy Roach and two costly Glenbard East errors.
The eight-run outburst, which carried the Bulldogs from a one-run deficit to a seven-run lead, was nothing new for the squad, in Batavia coach Matt Holm's view.
“Multiple times this year, we have had big innings,” Holm said. “We had a 12-run inning against Geneva. We had a 13-run inning against Streamwood.”
However, Batavia’s third-inning explosion did not put the game out of reach as the Rams responded with three unanswered runs in the third and fourth innings, keyed by a two-run homer by shortstop Joey Moore.
“You can never have enough runs against a team like that,” Holm said. “They were the No. 1 seed for a reason.”
After the Rams had clawed their way back to within three runs heading into the seventh inning, Ben Lynam gave the Bulldogs breathing room again with a bases-clearing double, scoring three runs.
Lynam, who took the mound in the fifth inning for just the second time since April, breezed through the first two hitters in the seventh inning. But three straight hits by the Rams (25-6) plated a run, and when Glenbard East left fielder Phil Abruzino hit a rocket toward the hole on the left side, it looked like the contest would get even closer.
However, Costigan laid out at third base, snaring the line drive for the game’s final out.
The Bulldogs will now face St. Charles East in a Schaumburg Sectional semifinal at 4:30 p.m. June 2. East took the season series against Batavia, 2-1, in Upstate Eight Conference River Division play.
“We owe them one,” Holm said, noting that standout hurler Glenn Albanese didn’t face the Saints during the regular season because of the way the schedule fell and because a rainout got mixed in.
Niemiec also missed the East games, Holm said.
Holm said his squad will be ready to take on the Saints.
“I will be facing my old friend Len (Asquini, the Saints head coach),” Holm said. “We will have to get together ahead of time and talk everything through.”