The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


May 14, 2014

Geneva storms back to beat Harvey

Eagles score 3 in the seventh to get come-from-behind win

GENEVA — Since the days he was playing tee-ball, Geneva third baseman Ryan Nappi never had a walkoff hit. Needless to say, when his grounder went through the left side of the infield to score Kyle Burkholder with the winning run Tuesday afternoon, it left him with a special feeling.

The hit capped a 3-run seventh-inning rally for the Eagles (8-11), giving them their first last at-bat win of the year, a 10-9 thriller over Harvey (10-13) in a Division II sectional semifinal at Geneva. The Eagles will take on Jefferson today for the sectional championship at the Havens Complex.

The Eagles’ bats were potent early, but Harvey starter Mike Ornellas seemed to be in a groove as he retired 5 straight and 10 of the last 13 batters he faced heading to the seventh inning.

Ornellas, however, ran into trouble in the seventh, walking 2 of the 3 hitters he faced. Ornellas exited the game in favor of Jeff Pillar. Pillar retired Steve Jewell for the second out of the inning, but with the Eagles down to their last out, Justin Adams lined the  first pitch he saw over the centerfielder’s head for a 2-run double to tie the game.

Burkholder came on to run for Adams and the stage was set for Nappi.

“I’m a first-pitch hitter,” the Geneva senior said. “As soon as I hit it, I knew it was going through, I didn’t even realize the winning run had scored, though, until I saw everyone running out on the field. It was definitely pretty special.”

The win left Adams with a pretty good vibe as well. The big fella not only tied the game with his extra-base hit, but he also knew he needed to get into scoring position for the potential winning run.

“I’ve got pretty some good wheels,” Adams said with a straight face, as his teammates laughed about him lumbering around first base. “I can’t tell you how excited I am, though,  to be playing for the sectional championship tomorrow. We’re going to show everybody what Geneva is used to doing, and what we’re going to be doing from here on out now.”  

Jack Frye picked up the win on the mound, as he came in to relieve the starter Josh Sanchez in the second inning. Frye worked 5 plus innings giving up three runs in the fourth inning, but no other damage to give the Eagles a chance to come back.

“I just need to throw strikes,” Frye said. “That’s really all I have to do, the defense is always right there behind me and we were very confident that the offense would come around.”

Sanchez walked 4 batters in the first inning but got a double-play ball to escape major trouble as the Red Raiders took a 2-0 lead.

Geneva came right back in the home half of the first inning when Connor DiGiacomo cleared the 315-foot sign in left field for a three run home run to the Eagles on top.

Harvey struck back in the second, however. After two more walks and a hit batter, Tennan Irish drove one to left center for a 2 run double. Two batters later, Brandon Accosta had an RBI single followed by another double off the bat of Josh Rice to chase Sanchez and put the Red Raiders up 6-3.

The Eagles got a run back in the second on a sacrifice fly by Frye to score Brandon Kovach. They then tallied a pair of runs in the third inning on an RBI single from Adams and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Nappi to tie the game at 6.

Harvey however answered with a 3 spot in the top of the fourth inning when they sent 8 men to the plate and plated three  runs on five hits to take a 9-6 advantage.

The Eagles answered with a run in the bottom of the fourth courtesy of an RBI single from Frye. With one out however, he was then cut down trying to steal second and the momentum was clearly starting to favor the visitors.

In the home half of the fifth inning, Kovach reached on a walk and stole second base. Ornellas, however, got the next two hitters on infield pop-ups.

He then retired the side in the sixth on three more pop-ups.

Geneva coach Jared Sziber sensed his team was way too anxious at the plate.

“That home run (by DiGiacomo) in the first inning was huge, but it also sort of put our hitters in the wrong mind set.

Sziber said. “Their pitcher wasn’t throwing real hard but we up there trying to do way too much and it set the tone there for awhile.”

“In the sixth inning we were able to get in the mindset of down and hard, and put the pressure on them to make the plays. On the mound, Jack gave us just what we needed today, he threw strikes and gave us a chance to come back. The seniors didn’t want this to be their last meaningful game today. They knew we needed to step to make some plays and we did.”

Geneva has not faced Jefferson this year but Sziber is fully aware of the challenge the Falcons will present.

“They’re going to be sound from top to bottom in every aspect of the game,” Sziber said. “They’re not going to have any one real weakness, they’re going to hit, they’re going to pitch, they’re going to field well. So we have to play up to our abilities if we want to have a chance to win this tomorrow. And we have the ability, so I’m confident the boys are going to come out and be ready to play tomorrow.”   

Shaffer is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.

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