Geneva rallies to split with St. Charles East
Two outs away from dropping both games of Saturday's doubleheader against St. Charles East, Geneva's baseball team picked a perfect time to snap a 13-inning scoreless drought.
The Vikings (9-10, 6-8) rapped 6 consecutive singles before Ben Chally's sacrifice fly tied the score at 4-4, and designated hitter Jake Weede's line single to right drove in Bobby Hess with the go-ahead run as their 5-run, seventh-inning rally was enough to stun the Saints 5-4 and salvage a twin-bill split.
"It would have been easy to roll over down 4-0 and say we fought the good fight," said Vikings coach Matt Hahn, "but they clawed and found a way. One at-bat at a time -- it all sounds cliché."
Anthony Bragg, fresh off a 2-home run, 8 RBI game against St. Charles North Friday, began the comeback with a 1-out single off of Saints starting pitcher Mike Boehmer (0-5).
"We were just trying to put something together," said Bragg.
Luke Polishak's bloop single got the Vikings on the board, trailing 4-1. Hess and teammate Dan Berendt followed with RBI singles to trim the deficit to 4-3.
By the time the inning came to an end, the Vikings had recorded 7 of their 10 hits for the game.
"That's baseball," said Hahn. "They came back and beat us last Thursday, didn't hit the ball more than 150 feet and scored two runs in the last inning."
The loss may have been even tougher to swallow for the Saints (12-7, 10-4) than last Wednesday's 5-4 late-inning loss at Batavia.
"To go from there to that … wow," said Saints coach Len Asquini. "It kind of shows you where we were at and how we approached and played the game. For 13 of the 14 innings, I thought we were very much in control and it just kind of got away there. Those last two outs were very difficult for us to get."
The Saints attempted a seventh-inning comeback of their own as back-to-back 2-out singles by Nicholas Erickson and Joe Hoscheit put runners on first and second.
But Brian Sobieski's hard-hit grounder to the right side was fielded on one knee by Bragg, who tossed a strike to Vikings starting pitcher Tony Landi (3-0) covering first to end the game.
"Late in the game, he (Hahn) always wants us really deep at the corners and taking away doubles," said Bragg. "I guess it was perfect positioning."
St. Charles East had stretched its lead to 4-0 with a pair of sixth-inning tallies thanks to Nick Huskisson's run-producing sacrifice fly and Brannon Barry's RBI single.
In Game 1, senior pitcher Matt Starai improved his record to 6-0 by tossing a 3-hit complete game during the Saints' 5-0 triumph.
"Matt threw a very nice game for us … again," Asquini said of his ace right-hander, who walked 2 and fanned 10. "He's doing exactly what he's supposed to do for us -- pumping strikes and keeping people guessing. It's tough to move the ball on him consistently."
Starai worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning before settling down.
"The first inning was a little rough but I battled back and stayed locked in from that point on," said Starai, who struck out the side in the seventh to finish off the Vikings.
"I emptied the tank in the last inning," said Starai, who benefited from 5-run production over the second and third innings against Vikings starter Jordan Touro (2-3).
"That's the best pitcher we've seen all year -- the best pitcher we've seen in awhile," Hahn said of Starai.
Hahn enjoyed the weeklong action against the two St. Charles teams despite his squad's 2-4 finish.
"What a fun series," said Hahn. "This series and the (St. Charles) North series was fun. You know you're in for a good game when you take the field."