The Geneva Vikings, who roared back into the Fox Valley Bronco League pennant chase by winning 13 of their last 14 games, were knocked from the top spot by the Winfield Wolves on the last day of the regular season.
Winfield's 14-2-1 record edged out Geneva which went 14-3. Both teams now advance into the league playoffs.
Geneva Vikings 5 Wheaton Warriors 1
The Vikings jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead after the first inning and never looked back.
Geneva pitchers Ryan Payne, Chris Jordan, and Max Cary combined to hold the Warriors to 1 run on 4 scattered hits. Payne was dominant with 6 strikeouts in the first three innings. Payne would add 3 RBI to the cause, while Rod Nelson chipped in with a key RBI single.
The Vikings needed only 4 hits to go along with the strong pitching performance. It was Geneva's tenth Bronco League victory of the season and ninth consecutive win after starting the season 1-2.
Geneva Vikings 9 St. Charles Sluggers 3
Saint Charles welcomed the Vikings to the sparkling East Side Complex for a crucial Bronco League matchup between two long-time rivals.
Both teams were battling for the league lead in this must win game. The tone of the game was established early as Geneva's Trevor Starnes led off the game by being hit by a pitch. Kevin Massoth singled, Starnes then scored on a past ball, and Ryan Payne followed with a RBI single. Payne later scored on a dropped third strike for a 3-0 lead.
Payne started on the mound for the Vikings and breezed through the first two innings. Outfielders Starnes, Stevie Diemand, and Bradley Thomas helped the cause with some solid catches. Thomas made a great diving stab of a bloop fly to right. Third baseman Massoth added a sparkling play of his own when he snared a sharply- hit ball and threw out the batter.
The Sluggers rallied in the third on two singles and a key error by Geneva. The Vikings held on to a 3-2 lead after three innings. In the fourth Geneva scored twice thanks to a walk and two quick stolen bases by Rod Nelson, followed by Justin Doty reaching after his bunt was mishandled. Nelson scored and then the next batter Diemand, executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move the runner.
Consecutive walks to Tyler Baert, Cary, and Jimmy Radecki sent home the second run. Meanwhile, Chris Jordan was masterful on the mound in the middle innings. Jordan kept the Sluggers off balance with a mixture of pitch speeds and helped his own cause in the fourth when he shagged a line drive rope and fired to second for a rally-killing double play.
Geneva ran the score to 6-2 in the sixth when Cary came through with a key, two-out, bases-loaded single to center.
After squelching another rally attempt by St. Charles in the sixth, the Vikings looked to add some insurance runs. Thomas got things going with a hustle hit to right, Alex Jenkins then laced a single to center and Massoth walked to load the bases with two outs. Payne then crushed a double to the wall in left center, scoring all three to stretch the lead to 9-2. It was his third hit of the night and second, third and fourth RBI of the evening.
Closer Justin Doty shut the door on another potential Slugger rally, allowing an unearned run before ending the game with a strikeout. At this point Geneva shared the Bronco League lead with a record of 11-2.
Geneva Vikings 9, Aurora Astros 7
The Vikings battled through some sloppy defense and cold bats to outlast the Astros at Sunset Park. It was another must win for Geneva in its drive to keep the Bronco League Pennant in sight.
Pitchers Rod Nelson and Kevin Massoth combined to scatter 6 hits to get the win. Most of the fielding mishaps occurred around the third base bag as both teams totaled 7 errors on the hot corner.