Geneseo won a wild sectional semifinal, but the Maple Leafs fell in extras in Metamora Sectional title game.
The Maple Leafs needed extra effort to extend their baseball season with an extra innings victory in the regional semifinals, and Geneseo went to extra innings again in pursuit of the first sectional baseball championship in school history.
Class 3A Metamora Regional Semifinal
The Maple Leafs’ postseason strategy was to keep battling, regardless of the score or situation.
Trailing 5-4 in the top of the seventh with two outs and the bases loaded, Geneseo’s Jaren Brucher had a lot running through his head, but he did what he was told and just kept battling.
Brucher worked a 12 pitch at-bat before driving in the game-tying run to extend Geneseo’s season.
“I felt confident and wanted to help my teammates out,” Brucher said. “All the seniors, they were rooting for me, and I just got it done.”
The Maple Leafs battled their way back for the second sectional victory in school history with a 10-8 victory over U-High at Metamora High School on May 31.
Following the Leafs’ Brucher reaching base on an fielding error, the Leafs’ Braden Robinson drove in two more runs to give Geneseo a 7-5 lead.
However, U-High drove in a pair of runs with two outs to tie the game.
Undeterred by a blown chance to close out the game, Geneseo’s Marshall Rice drove in a run in the top of the eighth, and Jordan Anderson hit a two-run double which turned out to be the game-winner.
Anderson hadn’t been hitting the ball well up to that point and decided to change his approach at the plate.
“I told myself, I was going to go up there and was going to be a little bit more aggressive,” Anderson said. “Those runs didn’t give us the lead, but they made us more confident.”
After U-High scored on back-to-back doubles, Geneseo’s Kyle Pittenger nailed down the win on the mound to advance the Leafs to the sectional championship.
The semifinal game began with U-High (26-9) being the team who clawed their way back.
Geneseo’s Jacob Pauley hit a solo home run onto the berm deep behind the fence at Al Mulberry Field.
The Maple Leafs’ Keaton Rice lined a RBI double, and Cade Humphries hit a towering two-run shot to dead center for a 4-1 lead in the third inning.
Marshall Rice was solid on the mound striking out a season-high 11 in four-plus innings, but Geneseo’s defense kept extending innings with errors.
“(Marshall) had big strikeouts when he needed them,” Geneseo Coach Scott Christensen said.”With the errors early on, I commented that’s 10-extra pitches and with the pitch count it mattered.”
Marshall Rice was removed from the game because of the new pitch count rule just after the Pioneers tied the game at 4-all with a two-run homer from Nate Hardman in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Geneseo’s determination was repeatedly tested, and the Leafs were down to a near skeleton crew by the end of the game.
The Leafs’ Trey Johnson was hit in the face by a pitch and Anderson had to plug his nose to stay in the game after getting a nose bleed.
Another critical moment came when Geneseo’s Tyler Thompson was run over covering first base on a bunt.
The hit jarred the ball loose and the runner was initially called safe with a run coming in to score for U-High in the bottom of the seventh.
However, the runner at first was called out due to excessive contact after one of the umpires saw the extension of the U-High player’s arms to ram Thompson and the runners were returned to their original bases.
Having only played second base during JV games during the Leafs’ South Carolina trip, sophomore Zac Olson had to finish out the game for Geneseo at second.
Humphries finished the game 3-for-5 at the plate with two RBIs and three runs scored.
The Leafs’ Keaton Rice finished 3-for-4 with a RBI and two runs scored.
“There were a lot of highs and lows, but all that matters is that we came out on top,” Keaton Rice said.
Class 3A Metamora Sectional Championship
Another rally, another extra inning game, but the Maple Leafs fell short of making history at the Metamora Sectional.
The Morton Potters scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning for a 7-5 victory over the Maple Leafs at Al Mulberry Field on June 3.
Geneseo’s Dylan Pardoe drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh, and Keaton Rice was intentionally walked to put the winning run at second.
Geneseo Coach Scott Christensen thought about having Humphries sacrifice the runners over, but let the middle order hitter Humphries swing away.
Humphries laced a ball down the third-base line, but it was scooped up for an out and Humphries had to hustle down the line to avoid a double play.
“I’m upset that I didn’t bunt in the seventh inning,” Christensen said. “I was going back and forth. It’s easy to
second-guess yourself. But, yeah, first and second, no outs, Cade the No. 4 hitter. If that ball goes by him, we win the game. That’s baseball.”
The inning ended with a pair of flyouts, and Morton scored a pair of runs in the top of the eighth to take the lead.
Geneseo (25-11) had the tying run reach second base, but a strikeout earned Morton its first sectional title since 2004.
In typical Geneseo postseason fashion, the Leafs battled back after falling behind.
The Potters’ Pat King hit a three-run home run in the top of the first inning on a 3-2 count.
The inning that turned the game was when Geneseo’s starter Pauley was able to work out of a jam with runners on first and third and no outs in the fifth inning.
Geneseo was unable to unnerve Morton pitcher Ryan Altenberger who was no-hitting the Leafs through four innings.
However, the Maple Leafs’ Robinson doubled on a dying quail that bounced away from the Morton outfielders.
Then Geneseo pounced, Jacob Pauley drove in two runs with a bases loaded single, and Keaton Rice drew a walk with the bases loaded.
Pauley scored on a wild pitch to give the Leafs a 4-3 lead in the fifth.
“These last three games in the postseason have been all about battling back,” Pauley said. “They would score runs, and we would score runs, so we knew we had to keep the momentum. We tried our hardest.”
Morton retook the lead in the sixth inning with a pair of runs, but Brucher was able to pitch his way out of a bases-loaded jam to keep Geneseo’s hopes alive.
Robinson singled and scored on Marshall Rice’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth.
“All the guys have worked so hard this year,” Marshall Rice said. “In every game, it’s a different guy to step up and do a job. It’s awesome to have a team like that.”
The Leafs’ Brucher got around another bases-loaded jam in the top of the seventh to give the Leafs a chance for the walk-off win before having the script flipped again.
In the Class 3A Rock Island Super Sectional, Marmion Academy defeated Morton 6-3 at Augustana College on June 5.