GENEVA – Geneva starting pitcher Daniel Alworth was not throwing his best pitches May 7 against Batavia.
But Vikings coach Brad Wendell kept the right-hander in the game, confident that he would throw well enough to keep Geneva close until the Vikings’ offense found its stroke.
Wendell’s reliance on Alworth’s abilities paid off.
The senior struggled getting Batavia batters out in his four innings, but he only gave up two runs. The host Vikings managed to score three runs in the first three innings and then broke loose in the fourth to score three more times on their way to a 7-2 DuKane Conference and Senior Day win over the Bulldogs.
“He’s a trusted senior, a captain, a competitor. He didn’t have his best today, but he competed, and he got out of some jams. I trust him and his stuff. I’m glad he competed for us,” Wendell said of Alworth. “We’ve got a big week coming up, a lot of games stacking up. We need guys to save a few arms and we needed to use his pitches.”
Going into the game, Batavia and St. Charles East were tied for first place in the conference with 11-1 records. St. Charles East split a doubleheader with St. Charles North on May 7.
Batavia (14-5-1, 11-2) loaded the bases in the first inning, but was only able to score once. Kevin Niedzwiedz drove in a run with a fielder’s choice. Alworth ended the threat by getting the next two batters out.
Geneva (12-7, 9-4) went ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the second. Jackson Walton laced a single to center that scored Carson Sprague. Walton later scored on a bases-loaded walk that Batavia starter Joe Kliest issued to Nate Stempowski.
The Bulldogs tied the game 2-2 in the third. After a single and two walks filled the bases with one out, Alworth gave up a run by walking Austin Winslow to force in Henry Saul. Alworth prevented further damaging by striking out the next two hitters.
“We had a chance to go up early but left quite a few guys on base and they hung around,” Batavia coach Alex Beckman said. “We also hit a lot of balls at guys today.”
In the bottom of the third, Tommy Maynard’s single down the right-field line scored Ryan Huskey from second base to put Geneva back up 3-2.
In the fourth, Geneva finally put some distance between itself and Batavia. With two outs, three consecutive singles filled the bases. Huskey hit another single that scored Jackson Dibble. Maynard followed with a double in the right-field corner that scored Nate and Blake Stempowski. The Vikings added another run in the seventh.
“I hit a first-pitch fastball in my last two at-bats and I pulled them down the line,” Maynard said. “Good things happened and we had guys coming around.”
George Weems took over for Alworth on the mound and pitched the last three innings to preserve the victory.
“George Weems competed really well on the mound,” Wendell said. “I was really happy to see George do that. He pitched three strong innings.”