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Batavia baseball sharp in fundraiser matchup with Kaneland

GENEVA – Kaneland and Batavia collaborated on a fundraiser baseball game Monday at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, with the proceeds benefiting three families in the Kaneland community with members fighting cancer.

Admission, concession, T-shirt and raffle revenues were pooled.

The Bulldogs potentially have more donations in hand should their boosters contribute a fixed amount for every hit.

Batavia extended its winning streak to 15 games behind a 13-hit attack in its 10-1 victory against Kaneland. Kaneland managed only two hits in losing its fifth straight game, although both sides downplayed the result.

Accordingly, the night’s biggest ovations came before Kaneland senior right-hander Curtis Thorson threw the first pitch about 7:15 p.m. Kaneland Harter Middle School seventh-grader Drew Hahn – son of Geneva baseball coach Matt Hahn – was recognized along with Kaneland baseball parent Phil Kassinger and Kaneland softball coach Brian Willis.

The three are battling various forms of cancer.

Batavia pitchers Ryan Olson, Tucker Knox, Nick Bleidorn, Austin VanKempen and Alec Berry combined on the gem. Kaneland’s lone hits were Thorson’s leadoff single and catcher Sean Dunphy’s RBI single in the second.

The Bulldogs (24-3-1) broke the game open against the Knights (14-14) in a six-run fourth, sending 10 to the plate.

Second baseman Jeremy Schoessling had three hits and three RBIs, while Micah Coffey, Dino Simoncelli and Matt Puttin also delivered multhit games.

Batavia and Kaneland traditionally have met at the Kane County Cougars’ home park in past springs, with charitable efforts providing a backdrop.

This season’s benefactors each assembled for ceremonial first pitches before the game started. Drew Hahn delivered to his father, Phil Kassinger pitched to his son, Kevin, a senior who worked a perfect seventh inning, and Willis threw to his catcher – Knights junior Paige Kuefler.

Throughout the process, Willis also has credited Kuefler’s father, Mike, one of his assistants. Willis hardly frets now if he has to miss a practice to recover from chemotherapy treatments.

Batavia and Kaneland wore special commemorative jersey T-shirts with “Kaneland Ks Cancer” on the front and players’ names and numbers on the back. The Bulldogs’ jerseys were red with black lettering, the Knights’ black with white lettering.

Umpires sported pink polos, although some fans still greeted questionable calls with the traditional “Come on, blue!”

A sizable crowd supported the teams, with cars filling up the Cougars’ premium parking nearest the stadium about 45 minutes before the game started.

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