By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
In what turned out to be a very close game, the Riverside Beavers took advantage of some mistakes from the Geneva Eagles in the second inning to score four runs. The Geneva offense gave starting pitcher Anthony Lilly some problems in the first and third frames, setting things up for what appeared to be a high-scoring game.
That didn’t happen, as the Beavers prevailed for a tight 6-4 Premier Athletic Conference win.
“I usually like to work inside and outside on the corners,” Lilly said. “I had some luck keeping them off balance with my breaking pitches, I threw strikes, and since I like to work as fast as I can, I was able to get into a good rhythm as the game went on.”
Two misplayed bunts by Geneva in the second inning led to four runs and a 4-2 lead for Riverside.
After Mike Gundling and Graham Becker opened with singles then Lilly pushed a perfect bunt down the third baseline that wasn’t fielded cleanly, loading the bases with no outs. Ian Rebenock drilled a sharp single through the right side to plate a pair of runs.
Joe Tribuzzo dropped another bunt down the third base line, again it could not be fielded cleanly, and Drew Tornow and Brandon Shaffer brought home the runs.
The Beavers added what turned out to be the game winner in the third. Gundling drilled a triple to right center, and Becker bounce a ball slowly toward second. Second baseman Ryan Nappi got to the ball and snared it cleanly, but took a chance on nailing Gundling at home. The throw was late, but Dan Camplese fired to first to nip Becker, making the score 5-2.
The Eagles (5-11, 4-9 in PAC) came back with another pair to cut the lead to 5-4.
An error put Josh Sanchez on base with one then Connor DiGiacomo lined a single to right, and with two down, Nappi sliced a drive to right for a triple.
From that point on, Lilly and DiGiacomo took control of the game on the mound.
Both hurlers gave up only a single run and hit over the last three innings, with Riverside (10-8, 6-4 in PAC) adding an insurance run in the sixth.
Tribuzzo singled and moved up on an errant pickoff attempt at first base, then Ross Dawson dropped a chopper down the third base line. Dawson narrowly beat the throw, but first baseman Nick Pae’s couldn’t handle it and rolled down the right field line far enough for Tribuzzo to come home.
“This was really a big win for us today,” Riverside coach Ed Humes said. “We had lost four in a row, starting Friday with Lakeside. We got bounced twice over the weekend in the Kirtland tournament, and we played a stinker yesterday with North. I think we had seven or eight errors. Coming in today, we really needed to focus again on playing good baseball.”
Once Lilly settled in, the Beavers did just that.
“With just two weeks left to play,” Humes said, “this was a good win to get us going again. I hope this carries over into the tournament for us.”
Geneva coach Justin Drapp saw the second frame as the turning point.
“We just never recovered from that second inning,” he said. “You need to be mentally tough. We have faced adversity before and come back. Right now, we’re just in a bit of a slump that is going to test us and show us our true character. It’s tough to win with four or five errors like we had today.
“The kids are being tested, baseball is a game that does that on a regular basis, so we need to keep our heads up and wait for our own breaks to happen.”
Lilly scattered six hits and two walks in going for his first varsity win of the year. He helped his own cause by reaching base twice and scoring once. Shaffer and Gundling both had a pair of hits, Gundling scored twice and Rebenock drove home a pair as all but leadoff hitter Drew Tornow hit safely.
A trio of Eagles (Brandon Kovach, DiGiacomo and Nappi) had two hits each to account for all the Geneva base knocks.
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.