Baseball: Geneva falls to Lake Park as Lancers take series

Lake Park's Christopher Ray (20) reacts after hits a two run double against Geneva during a baseball game at Geneva High School on Wednesday, April 17, 2024.

GENEVA – Last year’s success on the mound hasn’t been matched enough yet this spring for Lake Park lefthander Lewis Slade, but Geneva coach Brad Wendell was plenty impressed Wednesday.

Slade came within one out of a complete game in the rubber match of a key early DuKane Conference series while pitching the Lancers to a 6-1 victory in Geneva. The senior hurler used back-to-back strikeouts to work out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the fifth while protecting a 2-1 lead. His teammates then scored four times in the top of the sixth to take command of the game.

“Pretty much what I was thinking is I can’t control the runners, so just attack the hitter, throw strikes, hit that outside corner,” said Slade, who got a big second out on a swinging strike and then caught the next hitter looking. “I just saw that they couldn’t hit my fastball when it was tailing and I just mixed in my curveball and I got the strikeouts.”

The Lancers (13-2, 5-1) used strong pitching to claim Monday’s opener of the series 4-1, but the Vikings came from behind to prevail 9-7 Tuesday at Lake Park.

“We played three really good games with Geneva. It’s been really good high school baseball,” Lancers coach Dan Colucci said. “Two really good teams, senior dominated teams going at each other. To win both here [in Geneva] and take two out of three, we feel really good about that.”

Geneva starter Josh Feucht was solid on Wednesday but was done in by the 4-run sixth when Lake Park got a few deep flies up into a strong wind blowing toward right. With two on and two out, No. 9 hitter Chris Ray pulled a deep fly to right and the wind carried it to the wall, just out of the reach of Joey Cosentino, who crashed into the wall on the play. Derek Ittmer added an RBI single, then another wind-aided deep fly ball was dropped in the outfield, allowing a fourth run to score in the inning as the Lancers went up 6-1.

“Lake Park’s a very good team. Throughout their lineup they’re very competitive,” Vikings coach Wendell said. “I’m proud of the way Josh competed today. He kept us in the game. He pitched well. We’re one pitch away from being 2-1 walking back to the dugout, literally. That ball was hit well but it carried and carried. The wind didn’t seem to play as big a factor until that inning. But give them credit. They’re a good ballclub. I think we are too.”

Ray was put in the lineup after Colucci saw the flags blowing toward right, so another left-handed hitter might take advantage of the wind. The move paid off as he went 2-for-2 with a walk and scored twice while also delivering the big 2-run double in the sixth.

The Lancers also got another big game from Ittmer at the top of the order as he had two hits, a stolen base and tied the game 1-1 with a deep sac fly in the third.

“Our team’s got a ton of energy. We play off the energy and we just know how to play together. A lot of us have been playing together since we were 9 years old,” Ittmer said. “We’re confident. We think this is a state team for us this year and we want to keep it rolling.”

Slade finished the day with eight strikeouts and slowed down a Geneva attack that recorded 5- and 4-run outbursts the previous day.

“Their two kids pitched well here,” Wendell said after the Vikings were held to a single run in each of the two home losses in the series. “Their first kid [Monday], Sebastian Alvarez, is tough and Slade today threw very well. He threw very well and had some of our guys off balance.”

Third baseman Roland Sorentino had two hits for the Vikings and scored his team’s lone run on an RBI grounder by Sawyer Venditti.