The Geneseo varsity baseball team nabbed the school’s first regional title this past week with wins over Rock Island and Sterling.
Geneseo vs. Rock Island
The Leafs made history May 26 as they won the program’s first regional championship in school history.
“It’s a very exciting time for the baseball team, the program and everyone who has been involved, past, present and future,” said head coach Steve Brucher. “I am really happy for the eight seniors because that had become a major goal, almost a mission for them. They really wanted to leave their mark on the program and get the program going in the right direction and they accomplished that.”
Geneseo captured the regional championship with a 9-6 victory over Rock Island in the UT Regional.
After two scoreless innings, Rock Island struck first with one run in the top of the third, but Geneseo quickly countered with three runs in the bottom of the frame to take the 3-1 lead.
The game remained in favor of the Leafs 3-1 through the next two innings before the Rocks tied the game 3-3 in the top of the sixth with two runs.
Geneseo’s bats got hot in the bottom of the sixth as the Leafs drove in six runs to go ahead 9-3.
“I think the big key was the sixth inning when we scored those six runs, that was the difference in the game,” said Brucher. “In that inning we had seven straight guys reach base which was big and nice to see them coming through.”
The Rocks made one last attempt to comeback in the top of the seventh as they plated three runs, but Geneseo was able to hold them off.
Steven?Timbrook pitched the win for the Leafs as he allowed six hits, three runs and struck out six in five innings. Ryan Williams threw two-thirds of an inning to earn the save as he allowed no hits and no runs. Jeff Lutz also took the mound for two-thirds of an inning and allowed four hits, three runs and struck out one.
“I was really hoping Steven could get through that sixth inning, but he just ran out of gas,” said Brucher. “And in the seventh when Jeff got into trouble, Ryan, who is like our safety net, came in and put out the fire like he has done all year.”
Derek Mitchell (2 RBIs) and Michael?Daniels (2 RBIs) led the team at the plate with two hits apiece, which included a double from Daniels.
Matt Rowley, Timbrook (1 RBI), JJ?Rivera (1 RBI), Nathan Yager, Rayce Singbush and Adam?Stenzel (2 RBIs) chipped in one hit each with a triple from Stenzel and doubles from Rowley and Rivera.
“Offensively, the last two and half weeks we have struggled hitting the ball, so the most gratifying thing about Saturday was we hit the ball well and that is encouraging,” said Brucher.
Geneseo vs. Sterling
With the game tied going into the bottom of the seventh, the Leafs came through in their final at bat to edge out Sterling, 3-2 in the first round of regionals May 23 and claim Geneseo’s first postseason win since 2004.
“I believe the first game in the postseason is the most challenging because it is the first one,” said Brucher. “The key to getting the win was not getting ourselves in too big of a hole. Zach Alexander did a tremendous job for us on the mound and kept us in the game because we were not generating a lot of runs.”
Sterling jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning, but the Leafs were able to respond in the bottom of the third with one run to tie the game at 1-1.
The Golden Warriors countered the following inning with one run in the top of the fourth, while Geneseo pushed one run across the plate in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at 2-2.
The game remained locked at 2-2 through the sixth and Ryan?Williams entered the game in relief in the top of the seventh and shut Sterling down to give Geneseo a shot to end the game in the bottom of the frame.
Geneseo pulled out the win in the bottom of the seventh as Rowley scored the game winner on a fielder’s choice off a Timbrook hit.
“Matt got us started and got on base and then Rayce and Michael were intentionally walked,” said Brucher. “Steven had an opportunity to come through and he put the ball in play to score the run.”
Williams recorded the win for Geneseo as he allowed no hits and no runs in one inning of work. Zach?Alexander threw six innings for the Leafs and allowed five hits, two runs and struck out four.
Offensively, Williams led the team with two hits, which included a double, while Rowley, Daniels and Drew DeCap added one hit each, and Singbush and Timbrook contributed one RBI apiece.
The Leafs (20-16 overall and 7-8 in the NIB 12) squared off against LaSalle-Peru May 30 in the L-P Sectional. With a win, the Leafs will play for the sectional championship at 11 a.m. June 2.