YORK – The Geneseo Thunder experienced the thrill of a walk-off win and the agony of a walk-off defeat within about three hours Saturday evening.
Geneseo (11-3) rallied in the sixth and seventh innings to tie the visiting Webster Mustangs and force extras. The Thunder then walked-off with a 5-4 win in the eighth on an Alex Yarton RBI single.
Things did not look good early for the Thunder, as Webster (8-6) scored three runs in the first and added another in the third. Yarton, who also pitched for Geneseo, settled in after the early struggles and allowed only one baserunner the rest of the game.
He said playing well in the field was key for the Thunder, who were baffled by Webster’s pitching for the first six innings.
“You just have to keep throwing, you have to keep your head up,” Yarton said. “You have to keep the momentum going on (the defensive) side. At least if we’re good on defense, the bats are going to come around eventually.”
Yarton went all eight innings, allowing three earned runs and striking out 17 Webster hitters. At the plate, Yarton doubled, singled and drove in two runs.
Cody Harris, who drove in the tying run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, chipped in with two hits and the key RBI. Harris said the Geneseo had to tweak their approaches at the plate to combat Webster’s heavy dose of off-speed stuff.
“We stepped up in the box, and we knew he was throwing a lot of first-pitch strikes,” he said. “We tried to attack him early (in the count) and tried to keep our weight back as much as we could and hit it up the middle or the other way rather than rolling over on it.”
In the second game, Webster turned the tables on Geneseo, notching a walk-off win of their own.
The Mustangs, who were the home team in the second half of the double header, scored three times in the bottom of the first to take another early lead. Geneseo tied it up in the fourth on a two-RBI double by designated hitter Korey Gillen, but Webster scored two runs in the fifth to carve out a 5-3 lead. Geneseo rallied in the sixth when Sean Mattle singled in Harris and starting pitcher Tim Layland.
It looked like the two teams were heading back to extra innings, but Webster chased Layland from the hill after he walked the leadoff man in the seventh. Erik Graham retired the next two Mustangs, but an error put runners on first and third, and a wild pitch allowed Webster to score, salvaging a split with a 6-5 win.
Layland pitched into the seventh for Geneseo, giving up 5 earned runs and striking out eight in the loss.
Offensively, Mattle finished with two RBI and a run scored, Gillen collected two hits and two RBI and Tim Jackson added a hit and an RBI.
Coach Mark Bennett said the Thunder didn’t play with as much energy as he would have liked in either game but said the players hung around enough in game one to get the win.
“In the first game, the energy was not there,” he said. “We finally got some of that energy in the last couple innings, and we managed to come from behind and win.
The split versus Webster means the Thunder control their own destiny for the No. 1 seed in the playoff tournament. Only Coach Tony’s, who sit at 7-5 with four games left, can tie Geneseo in the standings, although that would require Coach Tony’s to win out and the Thunder to drop their remaining two games.
Geneseo will host Frozen Ropes Monday, July 9 at 6:00 p.m. in York before travelling to Moffitt Field in Mendon Thursday, July 12 to wrap up their regular-season schedule against the HFL Cougars.