June 19, 2012 | 05:02 PMGENOA CITY — The Genoa City 19U Senior Legion baseball squad is firing on all cylinders.
The team, which consists of players primarily from Badger and Wilmot high schools, has won 10 straight games after winning its own tournament last weekend. They are now 10-2 after losing the first two games of the season.
Head coach Gary Cukla said a combination of things has the Red Legs flying high.
"The hitting is coming around, and the pitching is very good," Cukla said. "We are getting timely hitting and running the bases very well. We are forcing opposing defenses to play well."
The Red Legs were unfriendly hosts to their Illinois neighbors all weekend.
In Sunday's championship game, Genoa City downed the Gurnee, Ill. Legends, 7-5, after falling behind 3-1. The Red Legs roared back with a six-run fourth inning, which featured a two-run double from Badger senior Peter Krien and RBI hits from Cody Ropp and Badger senior Eric Skipper.
Skipper went the distance on the mound, fanning seven batters and only walking two.
With the win, Genoa City took the title and finished 4-0 for the tournament, which was held at Krisik Park.
Earlier Sunday, Genoa City knocked off Mundelein, Ill., 1-0. Mundelein entered the game with a 2-0 record for the tournament. Ace pitcher Cal Rohrman, a recent Wilmot graduate who will pitch at Madison Tech junior college next season, got the win for Genoa City thanks to seven strikeouts, one walk and only three hits allowed. Rohrman also picked off two runners.
"Rohrman did really well and got out of two big jams," Cukla said. "His curveball worked."
Kevin Conrad, a 2012 Wilmot graduate, led off the second inning with a double and scored on a Cody Ropp (Kenosha Tremper) double for the Genoa City's only run. Mundelein had runners on first and third with nobody out in the fifth, but Rohrman picked the runner off at first base then got out of the inning with two ground balls.
On Saturday night, Genoa City shut down Jefferson, 5-0, in front of a packed crowd. Badger senior Travis Stahulak had his best outing of the season so far, striking out 13. The Red Legs were error free in the game.
At the plate, Krien, Ropp and Badger senior Ian Weber each knocked two hits. Fellow senior Trent Bobula added an RBI single.
Genoa City opened the tournament Friday with an 11-1 victory in five innings over Zion, Ill. Wilmot hurler Marcus Page tossed a one-hitter with three strikeouts and two walks. Cukla said everyone hit the ball well in the game.
Krien was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, and Conrad, Corey Crowder (Wilmot) and Weber each added two hits.
Last Thursday, Genoa City defeated Racine, 7-5, after falling behind 5-1. Crowder pitched five relief innings and earned the win. Conrad and Krien each smacked two hits.
The Red Legs return to action Wednesday against Kenosha St. Joseph's.
With so much talent and only nine positions, Cukla hopes to play everyone each game.
"It's a struggle keeping everyone happy," he said. "I hope to get everyone playing time."
Team littered with stars
Cukla, an assistant varsity coach for Wilmot baseball, is in his second year leading the Red Legs.
Last year, Genoa City was fourth out of seven Region 7 teams and finished around .500. The Red Legs won their first playoff game before losing the next two.
This year, the boys will battle the likes of Beloit, two Janesville teams, the Kenosha Merchants, Union Grove and Burlington in divisional play. Overall, the Genoa City boys will play more than 40 games.
"We are hosting regionals, and we'd like to win it," Cukla said. "We should be at the top of Region 7. Our defense will be tough. If our pitchers can throw strikes, we'll be in every game."
Genoa City will feature four graduated seniors from Wilmot, including Rohrman, the staff ace, Conrad, a first baseman, Kenny Eterno, who earned first team all-Southern Lakes honors in the spring with a .550 batting average and Dan Porteous, who missed the high school season with a knee injury. Eterno bats leadoff and hits in the third slot in the order and was Wilmot's MVP in the spring.
Badger is also well represented. Krien and Skipper were first team all-SLC picks in the spring, and Mitch Jensen was named honorable mention. Genoa City will also get contributions from Badger seniors Weber (2B), Stahulak (P/OF), Bobula (OF), Colton Andresen (OF) and Jonah Zeinert (IF). Andresen, who would've been the squad's No. 2 starting pitcher, may not pitch this summer due to an injured throwing arm.
Other Wilmot players will include pitcher Derek Horn, Page (P/3B), Crowder (utility) and Eric Nevoso (P/OF). Erik Kremers, a catcher from Antioch, Ill., got a waiver to play with Genoa City. He plays for Shoreland Lutheran. Also, Ropp is a new player from Tremper.
"There is a lot of competition," Cukla said. "We can't play everyone at once. Kids don't like to sit on the bench. Whoever gets hot and stays hot and plays good defense will find a spot to play. But our pitchers will always pitch."
The pitching staff will feature Rohrman, Stahulak, Skipper, Page, Nevoso, Horn, Jensen and Weber.