WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — It has been an up-and-down ride for the Batavia Muckdogs up to this point in the season — to say the least.
Yet with another win on Thursday night in Williamsport, they could be on the precipice of a late-season run that could make all the early-season issues be forgotten.
The Muckdogs jumped out to a big early lead, held off a Crosscutters rally and pulled away late to capture the two-game road series with an 8-3 victory.
Batavia pounded out 10 hits against four Williamsport pitchers and every starter had at least a hit or a run scored as the Muckdogs won their third consecutive game and second on their current road trip.
Ben O’Shea, who was staked to a 4-0 lead, was solid on the mound as he went five innings to improve to 2-2 on the season.
O’Shea allowed one run on four hits, walked two and struck out four.
Steven Ramos and David Washington each had a pair of hits for Batavia and Danny Stienstra connected on his first home run of the season to pace the balanced offensive attack.
Kevin Jacob, Kurt Heyer and Brandon Creath went the final four innings for the Muckdogs on the mound and combined with O’Shea to hold the Crosscutters to just 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position on the evening.
Stienstra gave Batavia the quick lead in the first inning that it would never relinquish when he knocked a two-out shot over the left-field wall off Williamsport starter Jeb Stefan for a 1-0 lead.
In the second, the Muckdogs made it 4-0 when Washington, Kolby Byrd, Reggie Williams and Gary Apelian all hit consecutive one-out singles off Stefan.
Williams drove in Washington and Apelian’s shot to right field brought home Byrd and Williams for the sizable early advantage.
In the meantime, O’Shea worked in and out of trouble in the first three innings and got a 1-2-3 inning in the fourth before Williamsport finally got to him in the fifth.
Consecutive singles by Roman Quinn and Mitch Walding, followed by a Cameron Perkins sacrifice fly, cut the Batavia lead to 4-1.
Williamsport then got a run off Jacob in the sixth when Larry Greene doubled to lead off the inning, went to second on a Byrd passed ball and came in to score on a Jacob wild pitch to make it 4-2.
Greene was then responsible for the run in the eighth that cut the lead to one when he again doubled to lead off the inning — this time off Heyer — went to third on a groundout and scored on a Jiandido Tromp sacrifice fly.
However, when Batavia manager Dann Bilardello was ejected in that eighth, it appeared to have fired up the Muckdogs’ offense, dormant since the second.
In the ninth against Andrew Aizenstadt, Apelian was hit by a pitch with one out and went to second on a Ramos single before a walk to Breyvic Valera loaded the bases.
Stienstra then reached on a fielder’s choice and an error by Williamsport first baseman Chris Serritella that allowed Apelian and Ramos to score to make it 6-3.
Later in the inning, a Garrett Wittels bases-loaded walk made it 7-3 and a Washington sacrifice fly rounded out the scoring.
Greene finished the night with three doubles for Williamsport, while Washington’s double in the sixth inning was his 18th of the season, good for a tie for second in the New York-Penn League.
With the win, Batavia kept pace with Pinckney Division-lead Auburn, which also won on Thursday night. The Muckdogs are three games out of first.
Batavia will now travel to Mahoning Valley for a two-game series that starts tonight at 7:05 before it travels to Auburn for three huge games starting on Sunday.