GENEVA – The Geneva and St. Charles East baseball teams split an Upstate Eight Conference River doubleheader Saturday, with Game 1 a 3-2 Vikings win and Game 2 ending 7-4 in favor of the Saints.
The Vikings started the morning fast as center fielder Jason Croci doubled to right-center in the bottom of the first. Garrett Davis moved Croci over on a bunt, but it didn’t matter because shortstop Nick Derr launched a ball into the jet stream that cleared the fence in right field, giving the Vikings a 2-0 lead.
The Saints (14-8, 10-6 UEC River) responded in the top of the second. After loading the bases on a walk and two singles, Reid Olson singled in the Saints' first run. It initially looked like two runs had crossed but pinch-runner Mike Settle was called out after failing to touch the plate on a bang-bang play at the plate. This left the score 2-1 moving into the middle of the second.
Starting pitcher Max Novak pitched seven innings striking out five and walking three while working out of several jams for the Vikings (13-7, 9-6 UEC River).
“Everyone makes mistakes. You’re not going to make every play," Novak said. "I trusted my defense behind me."
The Saints were able to tie the game at 2 off an RBI single by Erik Anderson in the top of the fourth.
In the bottom of the sixth, Derr struck again doubling to right field. Saints starter Mike Boehmer was lifted for junior Mick Vyzral. Vyzral gave up a RBI single to third baseman Ben Chally to give Geneva at 3-2 lead.
Novak was able to finish out the game, leaving two Saints on base in the top of the seventh.
East picked up its play in Game 2. Senior Brannon Barry singled in Alex Abate in the top of the first to make it 1-0 Saints. Geneva struggled on the mound, issuing five walks and hitting a batter.
“We weren’t quite as sharp as we were in the first game … I think it took some of the wind out of our sails not being crisp from the get-go in Game 2,” Geneva coach Matt Hahn said.
The Saints broke the game open in the third inning. Abate singled then stole second, Barry doubled and then Austin Regelbrugge and Anderson both singled in a run, making it 3-0.
The Saints tacked on four more runs in the top of the fifth with an Adam Rojas RBI double and two RBI singles from Settle and Olson.
Saints Game 2 starter Adam Eck pitched four innings, giving up no runs and working out of multiple jams.
“I started off walking a couple of guys and I just started to settle down,” Eck said, “it wasn’t my best day, I felt a little tight today, but I ended up working out of it, so it was good.”
Geneva threatened late, scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI infield hit by Nick Fitzmaurice and a Saints error, but Kyle Cook and Keegan Kennedy closed out the game as East won two of three for the series.
“We came through with some big hits, just not enough for a sweep,” Saints coach Len Asquini said.
East starts a three game series with rival St. Charles North beginning on Tuesday.