GENEVA – Though teams typically rely on the experience and talent of their seniors, sometimes the younger guys can come up with the same type of important contributions.
A group of underclassmen figured big in the Geneva baseball team’s 12-2, five-inning rout of Glenbard West in Friday’s IHSA Class 4A Geneva Regional semifinal. The win sets up a battle between two rivals for the regional title this morning, as the Vikings will host St. Charles East.
On Friday, it was an all-around effort from Geneva, with the batters scoring a dozen times on 13 hits, and a pair of pitchers – senior Jordan Touro and junior Max Novak – holding the visitors to just two runs and stranding 10 base runners.
The offensive onslaught kicked off with a huge second inning, when Geneva scored six runs against Glenbard West junior Grant Greeno. Sophomore catcher Nate Montgomery led off the inning with a solo home run to left-center field that accounted for the game’s first run. Four batters later, freshman shortstop Nick Derr drove in a run with a single up the middle, and the next hitter, freshman left fielder Jack Wassel, scored two with a triple to right field.
The Vikings added two runs on junior third baseman Ben Chally’s double and to take a 6-0 lead after two innings.
“Nick Derr’s been with us all year, and then Jack’s only been with us for the last couple weeks. I think they’ve both done a real nice job,” Geneva coach Matt Hahn said. “They’ve both handled themselves. They don’t act like freshmen. They don’t carry themselves like freshmen. Nick’s been doing it all year, and Jack’s been a nice addition, a nice infusion if you want to call it that.”
Touro wasn’t at his sharpest, putting a bunch of runners on base, but Glenbard West scored twice in the third inning, where the first four batters reached. Touro made a habit of working his way out of jams with clutch pitching or defensive help. He struck out seven to earn the win, his fifth of the season.
“Just stay focused, trust in my defense, trust in the pitches I was throwing,” Touro said on how he was able to escape his various jams. “I wasn’t throwing all strikes, but I was just trying to get whatever I could get out of there and get outs. I was trying to get outs in any situation I could.”
The Vikings scored once in both the third and fourth innings before another big inning – a four-run fifth – proved enough to end things early. Chally and senior center fielder Bobby Hess picked up RBI singles in the inning, and the game-ending 12th run scored on a dropped third strike.
Chally led the way with three RBIs, with Derr, Wassel and Montgomery all driving in a pair. Montgomery had a team-high three hits, while Hess scored three times.
The Vikings’ 20th win of the year puts them in the regional championship game on their home field. Come 10 a.m. today, they’ll be up against the conference-rival Saints, and Hahn already knows what to expect.
“It’s one of those things that’s kind of grown since we’ve joined the conference,” Hahn said of the rivalry. “We know we’re going to get good baseball [today]. We know that we’re going to get a quality pitcher, quality opponent, and we know that we’re going to have to play well to win.”