Jack Wassel's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh inning completed Geneva's 4-3 comeback win over Neuqua Valley Tuesday and capped not only a rally from a 3-0 deficit but an emotional day for the entire program.
Wassel and his teammates sported new caps with a green ribbon on the side. The ribbon was to show support for coach Matt Hahn's 12-year-old son Drew, recently diagnosed with blood cancer in his spine.
"We're all family here including Drew Hahn," said left fielder Garrett Davis, who saved the game by throwing out the potential go-ahead run at the plate in the sixth inning.
"He told us two days ago he wouldn't be here and we told him we would play for him."
Drew Hahn had surgery Tuesday and starts chemotherapy Wednesday. Assistant coach Fred Fortman filled in for Matt Hahn.
"It's awful, the whole school can't believe it," Fortman said. "It (the ribbon) was their idea to support him. They did a great job today."
Fortman said Hahn will return to the dugout for Geneva's next game Thursday.
Neuqua Valley (1-5, 0-1) took a 1-0 lead against Geneva starter Max Novak in the second. Nolan Hicks doubled and scored on Nick Hilgemann's infield single to the hole that Vikings shortstop Nick Derr knocked down but was unable to gather in time to get Hicks.
Geneva (4-0, 1-0) nearly tied the game in the second but the Wildcats escaped when shortstop Mike Riesner made a nice charge on a two-out dribbler and first baseman Matt Peters scooped his throw.
The Wildcats added two more runs in the third on RBI singles from Tyler Tesmond and Peters.
But they went on to leave two runners in scoring position that inning and 7 in the game. Novak struck out six in his six innings and Ben Chally earned the win with a scoreless seventh.
In its six games, Neuqua Valley has scored 1, 3, 2, 2, 4 and 3 runs.
"I thought going into the year our lineup would generate more offense and maybe they will but we haven't yet," Neuqua Valley coach Robin Renner said. "When you can't score runs it puts so much pressure on your defense and your pitchers."
Neuqua Valley starter Andy Sommers kept Geneva scoreless until the fifth. Nate Montgomery and Derr singled and scored on Chally's 2-run double.
Chally took third on the throw to the plate which turned out to be a key play when Wassel followed with the first of his two sacrifice flies to tie game at 3.
The Wildcats nearly regained the lead in the sixth with runners at first and third and no outs. Hilgemann lofted a fly down the left-field line that Davis caught and fired a one-hopper to Montgomery to cut down the runner at the plate.
"That was a clutch play," Davis said. "I heard Ben Chally yelling at me saying he was going to tag so I knew I was going to have to come up throwing. The result was pretty good for us, pretty exciting moment for us. Nate made a heck of a pick out of the dirt and a difficult play all the way around."
"That was awesome," Fortman said. "It gave the team a lot of momentum."
Jason Croci started the winning rally in the seventh against Tyler Bromer with a double that hit the chalk on the right-field line. After an intentional walk to Derr -- his third walk of the game -- Chally also walked to load the bases and set the stage for Wassel's winning sacrifice fly as Tesmond's throw from left sailed over the catcher's head.
"He (Wassel) did what he needed to do both times," Fortman said. "He put the ball in play. We were going to make them make the throw."
Which was the exact same strategy Renner had in the sixth inning.
"My philosophy is if it takes an absolutely perfect play for them to throw somebody out, we'll roll those dice every single time," Renner said. "That throw was a foot either way, he was safe. That ball was right on the plate, and the catcher made a great play on the short hop. I would do it again. You have to take that shot.
"The last inning we hit a bullet right at the right fielder. They hit a fly ball that lands on the chalk. That's the way it goes sometimes."