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Baseball insider: Vikings regroup without Derr

Published: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 10:21 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 10:36 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Jeff Krage file photo for Shaw Media)
Geneva second baseman Jack Wassel fields a ground ball in the third inning of Game 1 during a doubleheader May 10 against visiting Batavia. Wassel is one of the players who will fill in at shortstop after Nick Derr suffered a season-ending broken finger.

Nick Derr's season-ending broken finger leaves a sizable void at shortstop for Geneva, which learned it had earned the fifth seed in the 4A Schaumburg Sectional just hours before Derr suffered the injury May 13 against Batavia.

In an email, Geneva coach Matt Hahn indicated he will favor a "collective effort" approach as the Vikings' May 29 regional semifinal against host Lake Park nears.

"We will be trying a few different people around the infield to find the best combination going towards the playoffs," Hahn wrote.

Jack Wassel, who is listed as a shortstop/outfielder on the team's online roster, shifted over from his usual second base when Derr, a fellow sophomore, left the game.

Knights cram before postseason

Kaneland entered Tuesday's game at Cary-Grove on a five-game losing streak.

Monday's loss to streaking Batavia marked the skid's latest chapter, but really, the Knights appear to have budgeted for some bumpiness in the push to the 3A postseason.

"We're trying to see good teams before we get to the regionals, and we've got to learn from our mistakes. We've got to learn from what we did right, what we did wrong and we've got to continue to get better," Knights coach Brian Aversa said. "We like to be pushed. We'd like to get a win here or there, but right now we're learning a lot from our mistakes, so hopefully, it pays off for us."

Special night for Kaneland's Kassinger

Knights senior right-hander Kevin Kassinger crouched behind the plate before Kaneland faced Batavia at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark Monday.

He squeezed the ceremonial first pitch from his father, Phil, then embraced him. Phil Kassinger, who is battling stage four lung cancer, was one of three cancer survivors honored as part of the teams' collective senior night fundraiser.

That backdrop only sweetened Kevin Kassinger's 1-2-3 seventh a couple hours later as his family looked on.

"Huge deal. They're so grateful. I'm grateful. I'm glad I got out there and I had a good performance," Kassinger said.

Kassinger induced three groundouts against the Bulldogs, then returned to the warmth of the home dugout on the first-base side.

"Kevin's all heart, and he pitched that way [Monday]. He said, 'Coach, I'm feeling good tonight.' I said, 'All right.' And he got out there, and he made the best of his opportunity. One, two three, couple ground balls and there you go. And it was great.

"It didn't matter, he didn't care where he threw in the game as long as he's out there. It meant a lot to his parents and it meant a lot to us. It was great. It was nice to see him succeed and have a good senior night."

– Kevin Druley, kdruley@shawmedia.com

IN THE GROOVE

Batavia pitching

What the Bulldogs did: Batavia's Ryan Olson, Tucker Knox, Nick Bleidorn, Austin VanKempen and Alec Berry combined on a two-hitter against Kaneland on Monday, scattering three walks and nine strikeouts.

Christian Kuzemka, St. Francis, Sr., P

What he did: Kuzemka smacked a two-run home run in Saturday's victory against East Aurora en route to earning the victory on the mound.

WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK

Rivalries can blur sometimes. Want proof? Look no further than Monday's dual senior night cancer benefit game between Kaneland and Batavia, in which one of the benefactors was Kaneland Harter Middle School seventh-grader Drew Hahn, son of Geneva coach Matt Hahn "We can go compete on the field and all three schools have had great games against each other, but when it comes down to it, there are bigger things than baseball games," Matt Hahn said.

WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD

Which teams get off to solid starts in regional play. The Class 3A and 4A postseasons begin next week. Top-seeded Batavia is joined by fellow top-five seeds St. Charles East, St. Charles North and Geneva in the 4A Schaumburg Sectional. Kaneland, Aurora Central Catholic and St. Francis each are part of the 3A Kaneland Regional.

COACH SLY SEZ

Tuesday's schedule was laden with conference championship implications for Batavia and Marmion, adding one last level of intrigue after both schools excelled in their respective leagues.

Sly knows the baseball scene has been buzzing all season long, but days like Tuesday certainly help rev things up for the postseason, which is almost here.

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