BATAVIA – Brady King was moments removed from a career-first.
King could've been off to the side with friends celebrating his achievement. Instead, the Batavia senior grabbed a rake and began doing the job he's done after every game, win or lose – raking the dirt around home plate.
With the bases loaded and two away, all he needed was for something to squeak through the infield. He got it done, smacking a game-winning run-scoring single to lift Batavia to a dramatic 2-1, eight-inning win over Glenbard North on Tuesday.
Whether the game was on the line or over, King did his job – and did it dutifully.
"These are my brothers," King said of the collective team poise that ended Batavia's four-game losing streak. "We've been doing everything with each other...we always try to pick each other up, no matter a win or loss."
The Bulldogs (8-6, 2-2) ultimately came through for starting pitcher Brad Niedzwiedz, who took a no-hitter into the sixth inning with a 1-0 lead.
Glenbard North left fielder Angelo Cusumano knocked a single to break up the no-hit bid. After Colin Fleisher reached on a bunt single, runners advanced to second and third on a sacrifice bunt by Michael Vazquez. Anthony Ferreri then hit a game-tying RBI single to make it 1-1.
Niedzwiedz, however, stood tall.
After Jim Zay reached on a bunt single to load the bases with only one out, Niedzwiedz earned his eighth strikeout of the day, then forced a popout to limit the damage.
Niedzwiedz surrendered four hits and only one run on the afternoon. The senior struck out the first four batters of the game, going toe-to-toe with Panthers starter Michael Betancourt, who did the same thing.
"You can tell pretty early when [Niedzwiedz is] locked in," Batavia coach Alex Beckmann said. "He's a bulldog on the mound, in every sense of the word. [He's] probably not going to overpower you, but he has the will to win. It shows when he's out there."
Betancourt, only a sophomore, took a no-hit bid himself through 3.2 innings. After Betancourt recorded his sixth strikeout of the afternoon, Carter Gette knocked a double for Batavia's first hit. Batavia finally struck first on an RBI sacrifice fly by Cole Nelson in the fifth inning. Betancourt struck out 10 in seven innings pitched, surrendering only two hits.
"Both starting pitchers I thought were outstanding today," Glenbard North coach Rich Smelko said. "We just couldn't make enough defensive plays there in the eighth inning."
"[Betancourt] has been real good for us on the mound," Smelko continued. "He's put three starts like [Tuesday] back to back for us. He's throwing the ball real well for us...we just need to get him some run support."
Bulldogs relief pitcher Ian Konsbruck had a huge eighth inning, striking out three Panthers (7-5, 2-2) to set the table for Batavia's game-winning rally.
"That was a fun high school baseball game," Beckmann said. "We found a way to scratch it out there at the end. I'm proud of these guys for fighting in it [after] the tough week last week."