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Starai's dominance, Geneva comeback highlight doubleheader

Published: Saturday, April 27, 2013 7:07 p.m. CST
Caption
(Jeff Krage – For Shaw Media)
St. Charles East pitcher Matt Starai fires a pitch during his shutout against Geneva in Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader split in St. Charles.

ST. CHARLES – The Geneva baseball team's offense had about as streaky of a 48-hour stretch as they come.

After blistering St. Charles North for 19 runs in a blowout win Friday, the Vikings went scoreless for the first 13 innings of Saturday's doubleheader against St. Charles East, only to erupt for five crucial runs in the top of the seventh in Game 2.

It added up to a doubleheader split against the Saints in Upstate Eight Conference River play. East used senior right-hander Matt Starai's fourth straight complete game shutout to take Game 1, 5-0, before the Vikings' late uprising in the second game netted Geneva a 5-4 win.

Facing a 4-0, Game 2 deficit in the top of the seventh with one out and nobody on, the Vikings finally solved East right-hander Mike Boehmer. Geneva uncorked seven singles in a span of eight at-bats, with Ben Chally's game-tying sacrifice fly to center field the only out during that surge.

The next batter, senior Jake Weede, continued Geneva's trend of opposite field singles to right field, ripping one to right for the go-ahead run.

"As soon as you hit that rally and everyone starts hitting like that, your team just starts going crazy," Weede said. "It's just the most fun. This is what makes baseball awesome."

Senior first baseman Anthony Bragg, who had eight RBIs the day before against North, started the rally with his one-out single. Brandon Evert, Nick Derr, Luke Polishak, Bobby Hess and Dan Berendt also singled leading up to Weede's decisive hit.

That was more like the offense Vikings coach Matt Hahn remembered from Friday.

"I said, fellas, something's going to have to change," Hahn said, recalling a late-game conversation with his team. "I don't know if it's your approach that has to change, if it's your swing's going to have to change. Lay down a bunt, do something. I said we can't go 14 innings today and not score."

The Saints (12-7, 10-4 UEC River) threatened against Geneva senior Tony Landi (3-0) in the bottom of the seventh as seniors Nicholas Erickson and Joe Hoscheit notched two-out singles. The Saints' Brian Sobieski followed with a hard-hit ball toward first base but Bragg picked it cleanly and tossed to the covering Landi to end the game.

East coach Len Asquini said there wasn't much that could be done about the tough ending for Boehmer (0-5), who otherwise pitched an excellent game for East.

"If he was struggling earlier, we would have warmed somebody up or got somebody out there, but you've got to remember, that all happened really, really fast," Asquini said.

Geneva (9-10, 6-8) had no such answers in the first game for Starai (6-0), who extended a remarkable streak of complete game wins against Waubonsie Valley, Batavia twice and now Geneva.

The Vikings loaded the bases in the top of the first but couldn't cash in and Starai gained steam from there, striking out the side in the top of the seventh for three of his 10 punch-outs.

"That's the best pitcher we've seen all year," Hahn said. "He's good. Spots all of his pitches, doesn't mess around. It's here, hit this one, and looking at his record, not too many guys are hitting it."

Starai said he wasn't concerned about Geneva coming into the game in the wake of a monster offensive game against North.

"I try not to worry, it doesn't really matter what team you face, you've just got to execute pitches," Starai said. "If you execute your pitch, I'm not going to be disappointed no matter what the result is."

South Alabama-bound Geneva righty Jordan Touro (2-3) allowed all five of East's Game 1 runs in the second and third innings, with three walks during that span contributing to his trouble.

Hoscheit had five hits in the doubleheader for East, all singles, while Hess supplied four singles for Geneva, including two of the four hits the Vikings managed off Starai.

The outcome gave East two out of three in the series, which began with the Saints rallying for a 5-4 win of their own Thursday in Geneva.

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