The outpouring of emotion after Batavia senior Colby Green finished off a one-hit gem was understandable.
But it wasn’t until the entire story was told — following the Bulldogs’ 8-1 win over Willowbrook in the Class 4A York Regional finals — that one could fully comprehend Green’s response.
He just found out Wednesday that his grandfather in Oklahoma had passed away, so he was celebrating much more than top-seeded Batavia’s first regional title since 2009 and his team’s 23rd straight win.
“I was pitching for him,” Green said. “I knew he would want to be here. That’s pretty much what I was doing, pitching for him, so I was really pumped when I got that last out. I knew that the way my grandpa was, I knew he’d want me to pitch this game.”
Green did his grandfather and his team proud with a dominant performance. He struck out seven and walked three, the only blemish being Mike Rothmund’s rocket of a double to center with two outs in the sixth inning. It was the only run for ninth-seeded Willowbrook (21-12).
He only threw two curveballs, usually one of his most dominant pitches. He relied on his splitter and his fastball command to improve to 7-0.
The Bulldogs will face upstart West Chicago, a 13th seed, in Wednesday’s Schaumburg Sectional semifinals. Thursday’s other semifinal is also an all-Upstate Eight Conference affair, as St. Charles North faces South Elgin.
“A lot on his mind, but he’s pretty focused when he’s pitching anyway,” Batavia coach Matt Holm said. “That helped him stay focused on the one thing. He had a mission. Playing for somebody, that’s fantastic.”
Offensively, Batavia (31-3-1) took advantage of Willowbrook miscues against starter Jeremy Knable (4-4).
For example, in a three-run second that opened a 4-0 lead, two errors and a wild pitch allowed the first two runs to score and kept the inning alive. Laren Eustace launched the first of his two triples, followed by an RBI double by Jeremy Schoessling, both coming with two outs.
“To be perfectly honest, early in the year, that was us,” Willowbrook coach Vic Wisner said. “We would throw it around. We haven’t done that in the last nine games. I don’t know if it was tightness. It was uncharacteristic for us.”
Eustace tripled in Reagan McReynolds and scored on a Schoessling sacrifice fly in the fourth. In the sixth, Schoessling tripled in McReynolds and scored on a Micah Coffey double to cap the scoring.
“Our goal was just to go out there and have fun because that just means another game with each other,” Eustace said. “We just enjoy each other’s company so much. It was a fun one today, a lot less stressful than the last one (a nine-inning, 5-4 win over Bartlett). It was good. Everything went our way, it seemed like.”