GENEVA – RJ Bohr didn’t see immediate success.
Called up to the Batavia varsity baseball team as a sophomore halfway through this season, Bohr continued to battle despite initial struggles.
In his first two at-bats against St. Charles North on May 27, Bohr did not make contact, striking out both times he faced North Stars starter Josh Caccia.
Bohr continued battling.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I just tried to stay as calm as I could and when I saw that pitch come in, I knew I was going to smash it… We never let ourselves get down, kept hyping each other up and just had to find a way to win and did that.”— RJ Bohr, Batavia No. 9 hitter
In his third at-bat of the day, Bohr sliced the first pitch down the right-field line for an RBI triple, fueling a 4-3 Batavia victory for the Class 4A Geneva Regional championship. It was the Bulldogs’ first regional crown since 2016.
Bohr’s triple scored Andrew Gorski to give Batavia the lead in the sixth and the Bulldogs (18-16) got a sacrifice fly from Ryan Boe – after North tied the game – for the winning run in the top of the seventh.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous,” Bohr said of his sixth-inning at-bat. “I just tried to stay as calm as I could and when I saw that pitch come in, I knew I was going to smash it.
“We never let ourselves get down, kept hyping each other up and just had to find a way to win and did that.”
Batavia took advantage of leadoff walks, scoring three of its four runs on free passes. Boe’s game-winning sacrifice fly came after Ryne Woods walked and No. 3 hitter Jackson Bland singled to move Woods to third.
With two strikes, Boe found a way to put the ball in play for a fly ball to center to score Woods.
Boe’s at-bat was one example of the Bulldogs not trying to do too much in important situations to secure the victory.
“I think we have confidence in every guy that steps in there, 1 through 9,” said Bland, who reached base in each of his four plate appearances. “RJ is a perfect example of that. We just kept telling him to remain confident in himself, not think too much and just make something happen. I think he did that in that last at-bat and great things happened.”
St. Charles North (25-9-1) made mistakes that coach Todd Genke described as very uncharacteristic of his team.
Twice, the North Stars put bunts into play that Batavia overthrew first base, allowing the runners to reach safely. Both times the Bulldogs recovered and nabbed the St. Charles North runner at second base to record the first out of an inning.
“That’s something you just don’t normally see from us,” Genke said. “Those being the first outs of two innings there. I mean, otherwise we might get a big inning there. … Overall, I thought we played pretty well. I thought we defended and pitched well. I just think we weren’t able to take advantage of it today. Batavia is a good team and a good program. We knew we had to beat them and that they were not going to give it to us and today just wasn’t our day.”
North’s Parker Reinke scored two of the three runs for his team. Younger brother Keaton Reinke, a freshman, doubled and scored in the third and was at the plate in the sixth inning when a wild pitch was thrown to allow Parker to score to tie the game.
Caccia struck out eight Batavia batters over 4-plus innings.
Woods had an RBI double to get Batavia on the board early to help starter Nate Nazos (5 innings, 2 earned runs, 4 strikeouts). Joe Kleist finished the last two innings for the Bulldogs to get the win.
Despite seeing three separate one-run leads vanish over the course of the game, Batavia coach Alex Beckmann never saw panic in his group.
“This is a great group of kids that just wanted to keep playing,” Beckmann said. “They didn’t want this season to end. We have had to battle all season long and the best part is that we get at least one more game together.”