Opportunity knocked repeatedly for both teams during Saturday's nonconference baseball game between Geneva and Kaneland.
The Knights (7-3) capitalized on their opportunities when it mattered most, pushing a run across without the benefit of a base hit to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh and scoring the game-winning run a couple innings later on an RBI single by sophomore catcher Joe Laudont during their 7-6, extra-inning victory over the Vikings (8-2) in Maple Park.
Joe Panico led off the ninth with a double before Laudont sent Eric O'Laughlin's first offering through the middle of the infield to drive in Panico as the Knights collected their sixth straight victory.
"I went down to talk to (third-base) coach (Brian Aversa) and he said, 'get up there and be aggressive -- if you get your pitch, hit it up the middle,'" said Laudont. "I was a little surprised (not bunting) but Joe (Panico) had a great hit and I think he just wanted to keep the momentum going."
The game had a little bit of everything, including clutch 2-out hits, shaky defense and a reversed balk call after it appeared that the Vikings had taken a 7-6 lead of their own in the top of the ninth.
"It was a normal 9-inning game for everybody, wasn't it?" joked Aversa. "It was a little bit of a war of attrition there. We did a nice job of staying with it, staying with it and making the best of the opportunities that were presented to us."
Geneva seized an early lead with a 4-run third that featured RBI singles from Garrett Davis and Nick Derr and Ben Chally's 2-run double down the third-base line.
Kaneland cut that lead in half in the fourth on RBI singles from Nick Stratman and Connor Fedderly before going on top 5-4 with a 3-run fifth.
Tyler Carlson delivered a run-producing single and Stratman added a sacrifice fly while the Knights also took advantage of a pair of Geneva errors.
The Vikings' Nate Montgomery lashed an RBI double in the sixth to tie the game at 5-5 before a Kaneland miscue allowed the visitors to retake a 6-5 lead.
"That's two games in a row where we've come back from behind," said Vikings coach Matt Hahn. "Obviously you want to pull those games out and win but if you're looking for a silver lining, I guess that would be it.
"Brian's teams always put the ball in play and our defense really let us down today," added Hahn. "I think I counted six errors -- it may be more. That was the difference. Give them credit -- they put the ball in play and forced us to make the plays and we didn't."
Geneva nearly scored a run without putting the ball in play in the top of the ninth after a balk was called on Knights reliever Nick Henne with runners on second and third and 1 out.
However, after a lengthy conference, the umpires reversed the decision and runners Brandon Evert and Alex Lobrillo returned to their respective bases.
"If he (Henne) would have jumped and straddled the rubber, that's a spinoff but he jumped straight back and didn't ball-fake or anything so there was no fake to an unoccupied base in my eyes," said Aversa. "I guess they agreed with me. It could have gone either way, I guess."
Two batters later, Stratman made a running catch in deep left-center to rob Derr of an extra-base hit to end the Vikings' half of the ninth.
"Stratman tracking that ball down in the outfield there -- that was a great play," said Aversa.