DEFIANCE — The youthful Genoa baseball team came of age Saturday, holding on for a 5-4 victory over Evergreen in the Division III district final.
Alex Hayes allowed five hits and struck out four batters in his complete-game victory, and also added a double, a single and two RBIs at the plate as the Comets improved to 18-8.
Genoa, which starts four juniors and five sophomores, will face Lima Central Catholic in a regional semifinal at 2 p.m. Thursday at Elida Middle School.
“We’re so young, and we played tight today,” Genoa coach Ron Rightnowar said. “But we hung in there. It was a big growth day for our team. They were pressing, but they hung on and played like champions. They earned it today.”
Evergreen (19-9) got a jump on the Comets in the top of the first inning with two unearned runs. After Dylan Henricks led off with a walk and Kyle Kern-Blystone and Matt Brighton added singles, the Vikings got two runs when Genoa junior second baseman Casey Gose threw wildly to first while trying to complete what would have been an inning-ending double play.
Gose would more than make up for that error, however, going 3-for-3 at the plate and stealing three bases later in the game. He singled, stole second, and scored on Hayes’ double to left in the bottom of the first for Genoa’s first run.
The Comets tied it in the fourth inning when sophomores Nick Wolfe and Jake Wojciechowski both singled, and Wolfe later scored on a throwing error. In the fifth, Gose singled, stole second, and scored on Hayes’ single to left for a 3-2 lead.
Genoa added two runs in the sixth when Wojciechowski singled, junior pinch-hitter Grant Adams singled, sophomore Luke Rightnowar hit an RBI groundout, and junior Logan Scott added an RBI single to left.
The Vikings threatened in the top of the seventh after Hayes hit Kurtis Pierce with a pitch to start the inning. Kyle Brighton followed with an RBI double to right-center, and Henricks added an RBI single to left to get Evergreen within one run.
But Hayes got the final three outs, two on strikeouts.