Battershill, competing for Great Britain at the event in Grosseto, knew he had to finish in the top five of his heat on Friday evening to guarantee a spot in Sunday’s final.
The Harvard University student was expected to progress, going into the championships ranked fifth overall in Europe, but he knew he could not take any chances, especially running in the fastest of two heats.
But he showed plenty of experience to lead for nearly all of the race before easing up going up the home straight and finishing third in a time of 9:07.97.
Europe’s number one Jakob Ingebrigtsen won the race in 9:06.81. The Norwegian will be the favourite in the final, having run a staggering 8:26.81 this season, which puts him in the world’s top 50 seniors.
The second heat was much slower, with France’s Louis Gilavert, who is second fastest at under-20 level in Europe, easing to victory in 9:09.69.
Battershill, whose best this season is 8:55.84, is Great Britain’s only representative in the men’s steeplechase in Grosseto.
It is his second appearance at a major event for GB, having competed at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Colombia two years ago, and on each occasion he has made the final.
Sunday’s final will take place at 4.55pm and can be viewed live on the European Athletics website.