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Geneva baseball staves off sweep

Geneva’s Garrett Davis pitches to a St. Charles North batter Thursday in the Vikings’ 4-1 victory in St. Charles.
Geneva’s Garrett Davis pitches to a St. Charles North batter Thursday in the Vikings’ 4-1 victory in St. Charles.

ST. CHARLES – About the only time Garrett Davis paused Thursday afternoon came after he had finished a two-hitter to help the Geneva baseball team avoid a sweep against St. Charles North.

Asked about the high end of his modest fastball’s velocity range, the junior left-hander guessed between 78 and 80 mph.

Davis used the pitch only when he had to in a 4-1 gem, relying on a curveball, changeup and slider that seldom ranged outside the strike zone. Davis kept his emotions in equal check, a big part of why he’s 3-0.

“You can’t take anything for granted out there, you know,” Davis said. “We play a lot of good teams in our conference, so you’ve just always got to have the mentality of they want to beat you, too, but they have to play you. It’s tough to beat. You have to have that mentality.”

Honing their concentration was pivotal as the Vikings (10-4, 6-3 Upstate Eight Conference River Division) rebounded from the first two games of the series. North (13-3, 7-2) triggered the run rule Tuesday and won comfortably again Wednesday.

With leadoff man Jason Croci (3 for 4) paving the way, the Vikings stayed comfortable at the plate Thursday, which allowed them to do the same defensively behind Davis, who spaced two strikeouts and two walks.

“We just wanted to go out there and play relaxed, because the last couple of games have been kind of rough for us,” Geneva catcher Nathan Montgomery said. “I mean, I think that it’s all working out pretty well with us and we just wanted to go out there and have fun and kind of get back the mojo that we had at the beginning of the year.”

North coach Todd Genke, back in the dugout after missing Wednesday’s game with a “pretty gruesome” case of what he believed to be food poisoning, figured the Vikings were ripe for a response.

Genke also hoped his own players would take a cue from the defensive highlight of the game: North left fielder Nick Drawant’s running catch against the wall in foul territory to end the sixth.

With the bases loaded and Geneva ahead, 3-1, Vikings third baseman Ben Chally – owner of the game’s lone extra-base hit with a third-inning double – lofted a fly ball that kept drifting foul. Drawant sprinted and closed on the ball, banging into the wall near the foul pole as he collected it. He quickly rose to his feet and showed the catch, to the delight of North’s fans and the dismay of Geneva’s.

A slight dent in the wall was there for all to see as Drawant headed back to the dugout.

“He goes hard on everything he does. I mean, you play checkers and he’s foaming at the mouth,” Genke said. “He’s the kind of kid you love to have on your team.”

Geneva coach Matt Hahn lent similar praise to Davis, saying, “Every time he’s on the mound, we know we’ve got a real good chance to win.”

North’s Cory Wright opened the fourth with an opposite-field single to left. Drawant had the team’s second hit later in the inning, one batter after Joe Kuczek drove in the North Stars’ lone run with a sacrifice fly to center.

The Vikings mounted all the offense they needed against North starter Ryan Suyak with separate run-scoring singles from Croci and Montgomery in the second and third.

Max Novak and Alex Lobrillo added RBI singles in the sixth and seventh, fueling Davis’ confidence and trust-your-defense approach.

“Staying ahead in the count is very important so you can utilize all of your pitches as strikes,” Davis said.

It also helps keep sweeps at bay.

A few North players wielded brooms after the game, but they were only used for field maintenance.

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