AURORA – After the Geneva baseball team rallied in the top of the seventh to tie Waubonsie Valley at 5 Thursday afternoon, the Warriors responded with a comeback of their own in their half of the inning to win, 6-5.
A bases-loaded single by Waubonsie’s Ryan Jones scored Ben Vietri with the winning run in the Upstate Eight Conference crossover game for Geneva’s first loss of the season.
The Vikings (8-1, 4-1 UEC River) started the seventh inning trailing, 5-2. Leadoff man Jason Croci opened the inning with his third single of the day off Waubonsie reliever Nick Drago. A walk to Garrett Davis and a Nick Derr single loaded the bases.
A groundout by Jack Wassel allowed Croci to score. Geneva catcher Nate Montgomery followed with a single that scored Davis and Derr.
“I was sitting on the fastball, I took a couple of off-speed pitches at the beginning to get it. So I finally got my pitch to drive,” Montgomery said. “I wouldn’t of been up there if it hadn’t been for the guys who started it. It was a good team effort to score.”
Drago got the Warriors out of the inning when he picked off a pinch-runner at first base for the third out.
“We got a very competitive group. I had confidence that we were going to put pressure on them in the last inning,” Geneva coach Matt Hahn said.
Three of the first four batters for Waubonsie (6-3, 2-1 UEC Valley) reached base in its half of the seventh on a single by Vietri and two walks. After Eric O’Loughlin, who started the seventh in relief of starting pitcher Max Novak, walked Tad Wegner, the Vikings issued an intentional pass to Drago to face Jones. Instead of hitting into an inning-ending double play as Geneva hoped, the junior got the game-winning hit.
“Their hitters did a good job in the seventh putting the ball into play and forcing us to make the plays, which unfortunately we didn’t,” Hahn said.
“Ryan Jones, he’s been struggling, so he needed that,” Warriors coach Dan Fezzuoglio said. “It was good for him, a junior, to come into a big situation. That’s something he can build on.”
Vietri, who went 3 for 4 with three singles, provided the spark for Waubonsie’s offense.
He singled in the first run of the game in the third inning and later scored to give his team a 3-0 advantage. In the fifth, he singled in the team’s fourth run and scored the fifth as the Warriors extended their lead to 5-2.
Montgomery got one of the runs back in the fourth with a double, Geneva’s only extra base hit of the day, in the left-field gap to score Derr.
The Vikings scored their second run when Waubonsie starting pitcher Jack Eddy walked Ben Chally with the bases loaded in the fifth, forcing in Brandon Evert.
O’Loughlin took the loss for Geneva while Drago got the win.
“It was a rough one. It was our first loss of the year but overall I think we played pretty well,” Montgomery said. “It just didn’t come out in our favor in the end. They are a good team, and they hit the ball hard.”