SHERRARD — Even after a five-run fourth inning that ostensibly gave Sherrard control of Monday's nonconference baseball game against Geneseo, the Tigers knew better than to let up.
Indeed, the defending Class 3A regional champion Maple Leafs made sure Sherrard wouldn't be able to relax. Down by six runs entering the top of the seventh inning on a chilly Monday, Geneseo cut that deficit in half, capped by an RBI single by Trevor Craig (3-for-4), before sophomore reliever Ben Swanson closed the door in the Tigers' 8-5 victory.
"You could tell right away that both teams were swinging the bats as best as they could so it was nice to get that cushion early," said Sherrard coach Sean McCollum, whose 4-1 club handed Geneseo its first loss in five outings.
The Leafs went up 2-1 with two unearned fourth-inning runs against Sherrard starting pitcher Broddie Davis (2-0). In the bottom of the inning, the Tigers sent nine batters to the plate to score five runs, with a two-run single by Brian King breaking a 2-2 tie. An RBI single by Austin Hildebrant and Nathan Fay's RBI triple capped the uprising.
"I was just trying to go the other way, get some runs in and give us a cushion," said King. "After losing our seniors from last year, we know that we all have to step up. We're a young team but will get better with experience."
King had a 3-for-4 day at the plate, and Hildebrant and Fay were both 3-for-3, with the former driving in three runs.
Subsequent RBI singles by Hildebrant and Austin Kelly in the last of the sixth stretched Sherrard's lead to 8-2, giving it just enough to weather the Maple Leafs' late rally, which included RBIs from Reed Buysse and Craig.
"We scored 11 runs against Amboy with two outs, but today, we couldn't come through a couple of times with two outs," said Geneseo coach Steve Brucher, referring to his team's missed opportunities with runners in scoring position in the five innings in which it did not score.
"But I liked how our kids battled at the end. They didn't roll over; we had the tying run at the plate, which is a positive thing right there."