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Genoa City Legion squanders early lead, season ends


Defensive mistakes doom Red Legs



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Genoa City players walk off the field after last Wednesday's loss to Beloit. The Red Legs finished 12-16. Joy Kowald.

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A GC batter prepares to take a swing against Beloit. Joy Kowald. (click for larger version)
July 30, 2013 | 03:12 PM
KENOSHA — Local baseball is officially over with Genoa City Senior Legion's early exit from last week's Region 7 playoffs.

The Red Legs lost their second consecutive game of the double-elimination tournament July 25 against Waterford at Carthage College, squandering a late lead in a 7-4 loss.

Genoa City, a 19 & Under squad consisting of players from Genoa City, Wilmot and others from Kenosha and Walworth counties, jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first when Genoa City resident Colton Andresen led off the game with a single then stole second on the next pitch. Andresen eventually scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Colin Barry to crack the scoreboard.

The Red Legs scored again on an RBI triple in the second to make it 2-0. Waterford cut the lead in half in the bottom of the frame, and it stayed that way until the sixth inning.

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That's when starting pitcher and Genoa City native Travis Stahulak, who was hurling a gem, helped his own cause at the plate. After a Levi Burnette double, Stahulak smashed a monster blast over the right-field fence to give the Red Legs a commanding 4-1 advantage.

But in the bottom of the sixth, Waterford plated two runs on two hits along with two Genoa City errors to make it a 4-3 game. There was still a lot of baseball left in the nine-inning affair (all playoff games are nine innings). However, Stahulak settled down the next inning, and the Red Legs took their slim lead into the eighth.

"To that point, Stahulak had given up just five hits," said Genoa City coach Gary Cukla. "The only thing that would stop him would be the amount of pitches."

Maybe it was the two extra innings, but "Stu," as his teammates affectionately call him, ran into trouble in the eighth as he walked the first batter. Taking no chances, Cukla replaced Stahulak with Delavan native Bryce Davis. The move backfired, as Davis' first pitch found the backstop, allowing the Waterford runner to take second. He scored as the batter crushed a single, knotting things up at 4-4.

Andresen then came in for Davis in a tough spot. Andresen seemed like he was going to save the day, as he fanned the first batter and forced a groundout to the next batter. However, as Lake Geneva native Ian Weber, the second baseman, flipped to the bag for a double play, shortstop Kyle Nixon misplayed the toss. This gave Waterford a 5-4 lead.

With the bases still loaded and only one out, Waterford scored two more runs on fielders' choices to take control at 7-4 with Genoa City only having three outs left.

"For the last few weeks we have been playing very good defense and this was not the time to give up free runs," Cukla said.

With one out in the ninth, Lake Geneva's Jonah Zeinert doubled, but Nixon flew out for the second out. Andresen singled to advance Zeinert to third. However, Burnette's routine grounder to third ended the game and Genoa City's season.

Four errors plagued the Red Legs, and each one led to a run. Cukla felt this one should have gone in his team's favor.

At 12-16 overall, it was a season that started on a sour note. A handful of Badger High School's better players, who had just graduated in June, decided to not play this summer for various reasons. Also, Stahulak missed most of the season with a broken leg. It got to a point where Weber, who didn't play all season, had to join the team last week to fill the roster.

"We should've won this game especially the way Travis pitched, but those errors were the difference," Cukla said. "I am very proud of these guys with the season that we had. With some new ballplayers next year we should be deeper in our roster to be able to do more on the field both defensively and offensively.

James Alexander, a Wilmot senior, paced the Red Legs with three hits. Andresen, Eric Kremers (Shoreland Lutheran) and Zeinert each added two hits.

Beloit 6, Genoa City 5

The first game of the tournament July 24 saw Wilmot graduate Eric Nevoso on the mound facing Beloit for the third time this season, splitting his first two decisions. A furious comeback came up just a bit short late as Genoa City dropped to 12-15 overall.

Genoa City managed to score a run in the third with a leadoff single by Kremers, followed by an RBI double from Cam Loveless.With the score 1-0 going into the top of the fifth, Beloit manage plated two runs on three hits to take a 2-1 lead.

Nevoso still had his stuff going into the sixth inning with his fastball and curve, Beloit finally figured Nevoso out and extended its lead to 3-1.

Genoa City only managed two hits through six innings, and Beloit poured it on in the seventh.

After a Red Legs error, Beloit tacked on three more runs to make it 5-1.

"I should've taken Eric out before the second hit of that inning, but I didn't and it cost us," Cukla said.

Davis relieved Nevoso and gave up a run immediately but shut down Beloit for the final 2 2/3 innings.

Genoa City's last wraps started off with two straight outs before consecutive walks to Alexander and Zeinert. The rally continued when Weber and Nixon cracked RBI singles to make it interesting at 6-3.

Two more Red Legs scored on an error by Beloit's second baseman. With Clint Ugolini on first base with two outs, Nick Van Kampen stepped to the plate representing the winning run. He walked, putting the pressure on the next batter, Burnette. The talented outfielder, who played on Genoa City's Junior Legion squad most of the season, then struck out to end the game.

"I really like how we came back, but this game just got away and we needed to score much earlier to put pressure on Beloit," Cukla said. "They are a good team, and the scores between the two teams always came down to one run."

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