GENEVA – Mitch Endriukaitis started the Geneva baseball team’s improbable eight-run seventh-inning rally Thursday with a base hit, clubbed the go-ahead three-run homer later in the frame, and for good measure picked up the save on the mound as the Vikings outlasted Marmion, 13-10.
Geneva, technically the visiting team because this was supposed to be a home game for the Cadets – field conditions at Marmion forced the location change – entered the top of the seventh trailing, 10-5.
In addition to Endriukaitis’ lead-off single, the Vikings got clutch hits from Anthony Bragg, Brock Chenier and Luke Polishak to keep the rally alive before Endriukaitis took Marmion reliever Zach Siwiec deep over the left-field fence.
Endriukaitis didn’t have much time to think about his second at-bat of the inning because he was working in the bullpen in case he was needed in the bottom of the frame and the Cadets chose to intentionally walk Nick Derr in front of him to load the bases. Marmion (1-1) was clinging to a 10-9 lead with two outs at the time.
“I was down warming up and then I was on deck, so I sprinted up here,” Endriukaitis said. “Luckily, coach [Matt] Hahn helped me out and called time to let me catch my breath and regain my focus. It was the right pitch and I swung and it was a home run.”
The home-plate umpire initially was not going to grant Endriukaitis time, so Hahn forced the issue by pointing out that the coach could call for an offensive conference with his hitter.
“I’ll credit our sophomore coach [Fred Fortman],” Hahn said. “He got in my ear to call timeout and the umpire didn’t want to give it to us. Our sophomore coach said, ‘Call time, call time. Let him catch his breath. His heart’s probably racing.’ So I’ll give Fred credit.”
The first pitch Endriukaitis saw was a wild pitch that tied the game. Then he drilled the next pitch over the fence.
“We work hard every day and that’s one of the things we focus on – that if we’re down, we never give up,” Endriukaitis said. “Our trip down to Jacksonville, we were down in two of our games, but we came back. That’s how this team is.”
Sophomore Ben Slattery picked up his first varsity win for the Vikings (3-1) by getting the final two outs of the sixth inning. Starter Tony Landi went four innings, giving up five runs on seven hits. Errors contributed to several of those runs.
“Our defense, which we think will be one of the strengths of our team, kind of let us down a little bit today,” Hahn said. “But you look at the guys who kind of came through in the clutch there and you look to our seniors. You look at the best varsity teams and their seniors come through when you need them.”
In addition to Endriukaitis, who was 3 for 4 with four RBIs, seniors Bobby Hess, Chenier and Polishak all had a pair of hits.
Catcher Brady Roberts had a pair of doubles and an RBI for the Cadets, and designated hitter Edgar Sanchez also had two hits and drove in a run.
Marmion took a 2-0 lead in the second inning and never trailed until the seventh.
“We played pretty well for six innings,” Marmion coach Dave Rakow said. “The last inning got us but the cup half full is that this is a young team and maybe this is just a bump in the road. … I think our guys know they have talent, but they have to learn how to win games at the varsity level and we’re not there yet.”