Vikings versatile offensively
Geneva’s recent offensive resurgence has been especially encouraging for the Vikings considering the number of batsmen who have aided the cause.
True, senior first baseman Anthony Bragg made waves Friday with his eight-RBI outburst in a 19-1 win against St. Charles North, but the Vikings had several other players make substantial contributions to the offensive explosion.
Then, in Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader against St. Charles East, seven Geneva players singled in the top of the seventh inning as the Vikings scored five runs in the inning to rally for a 5-4 victory.
Vikings coach Matt Hahn said this season is different than many in the past in that the team doesn’t have a clear, standout offensive weapon.
“We’ve had different years where maybe one through four you can count on,” Hahn said. “This year, we haven’t been able to put our finger on that yet. It’s been maybe (Bobby) Hess today and (Nick) Derr tomorrow and [Friday] it was Bragg. [On Saturday] we got a bunch of hits in a row there, so it’s kind of nice.”
Hahn said the makeup of his lineup this season causes him to coach differently than he otherwise might.
“Some years you strategize a little bit, alright, we’re not hitting, so in the past, you try to get to (Nick) Herrera or you try to get to (Matt) Williams or somebody like that so you maybe don’t steal or don’t do certain things strategically,” Hahn said. “We’re still trying to figure that out, and I think part of that is not playing consistently, too.”
Kaneland freshman making impression
When Kaneland freshman pitcher Anthony Holubecki earned the pitching win Friday against Yorkville, he improved to 3-0 on the mound which, at the time, accounted for half of the Knights’ pitching wins.
Holubecki is splitting time between the sophomore team, where he plays in the field and hits, and the varsity team, for which he is becoming a key cog in the pitching rotation.
“We’ve put him in some tough spots already and he’s been doing a great job,” Kaneland coach Brian Aversa said. “He’s looking really good.”
Holubecki, a right-hander from Elburn, throws in the mid-80s, velocity-wise, impressive for a freshman, Aversa said.
“He’s got some pretty good control, some really nice off-speed [pitches],” Aversa said. “He just continues to pump the strike zone, he gets ahead of batters and he gets them in a hole and makes them swing at his pitch, and a lot of times his pitches aren’t that easy to hit.”
Aversa said Holubecki is the first Knights underclassman to crack the varsity lineup since graduated center fielder Joe Camiliere started as a sophomore.
Any given Monday (Or Tuesday, or Wednesday … )
Friday’s 19-1, five inning thrashing at the hands of Geneva turned St. Charles North coach Todd Genke philosophical.
After a lengthy postgame chat with his North Stars, Genke acknowledged how daunting it can be to keep a high school baseball team consistently engaged over the course of a season.
“Baseball’s so difficult to coach because you have to have these kids ready every, single day,” Genke said. “It’s not like football where you play once a week or basketball a couple times a week. You’ve got to have them ready every day, and it’s difficult at times to find out what their switch is, what really motivates them.”
The North Stars had beaten the Vikings in the first two games of their three-game series.
– Jay Schwab
IN THE GROOVE
Matt Starai, St. Charles East, Sr., P
What he did: Starai struck out 10 batters in his fourth straight complete game shutout on Saturday as the host Saints defeated Geneva, 5-0, in Game 1 of a doubleheader split.
Dan Miller, Kaneland, Sr., OF
What he did: Miller notched a walk-off single in the first game of a doubleheader win on Saturday as Kaneland edged DeKalb, 4-3. The day before, Miller was 3 for 3 at the plate as the Knights beat Yorkville, 3-2.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LAST WEEK
St. Charles North has some resiliency.
After suffering embarrassing, blowout losses on back-to-back days – Thursday against Streamwood and Friday against Geneva – the North Stars regrouped on Saturday to sweep the Sabres in a UEC River doubleheader.
WHAT WE’LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
How realistic it is that Geneva right-handed ace Andy Honiotes will return for the Vikings this spring.
Honiotes has a doctor appointment set for Wednesday that could be revealing regarding his status for the rest of the spring. The Miami recruit, who said last week that he hopes to return for the stretch run, has been shelved since April 16 with ulnar nerve irritation.
COACH SLY SAYS
Looking to Sly like it’s going to be a two-horse race in the UEC River between Batavia and St. Charles East.
The Bulldogs and Saints already have played each other, so it’s going to come down to how the teams do against everyone else these next few weeks, with their archrivals getting the chance to have their say about how things play out.
East and St. Charles North are in the midst of a three-game series this week (and North could conceivably play its way into the mix if it catches fire), while Geneva is awaiting Batavia later this week.
Both of those series are key, but Sly’s thinking these teams are close enough that it’s going to come down to the wire for the conference championship.