Bryan Callaly’s strikeout total kept rising along with the heat and humidity Tuesday afternoon at Geneva High School.
The Vikings’ 6-foot-6 sophomore to be struck out nine and scattered five hits in pitching his team to a 4-0 victory over Hampshire in a regional quarterfinal battle between two underdogs in the Phil Lawler Summer Classic.
“His velocity went down as most pitchers will do during the game, but I think his other pitches got better as the game went on,” Geneva coach Matt Hahn said. “For only being a sophomore to be, and pitching a second-round playoff game, I thought he handled himself very well.”
Callaly struck out seven of the last nine he retired when the heat and humidity had become greatest. He got one out in the seventh before allowing a double, and Hahn walked out to the mound.
“I just wanted to finish it out, finish the game,” Callaly said.
Hahn merely gave Callaly a towel so he could dry off a bit, then went to the bench. So Callaly finished the game with two more strikeouts to put his team in a regional semifinal game at St. Charles East against rival Batavia on Wednesday at 5 p.m.
“The fastball was working, and also my curve ball,” Callaly said. “My fastball, I felt I was just throwing it harder, hitting my spots and getting kids out.”
Geneva (13-11-1) entered the game a 10th seed, but Max Novak had shut down seventh-seeded Waubonsie Valley in the first round, 10-1. Hampshire (8-11) had been an even bigger underdog winner, emerging from a doubleheader sweep Monday that included a 2-1 upset win as the No. 15 seed over second-seeded Cary-Grove.
“Andrew Brown lost to them 3-2 in the spring and and he was really looking forward to facing Cary again,” Hampshire coach John Sarna said. “We went out there and competed, executed and we won a tight ballgame in eight innings.”
Against Geneva, Hampshire started like it had some more of that 15th-seeded magic left by loading the bases with one out in the second against Callaly on singles by Dillon Kuhn and Adam Maizonet and an error. However, Colin Gogoel’s bunt was caught in the air by Callaly, and he threw to shortstop Jack Wassel covering third after Maizonet had left on the squeeze for an inning-ending double play.
After that, Callaly was in command, and Geneva did just enough to hand starting Hampshire pitcher Kyle Rutkowski a defeat. Geneva got an RBI double by Ben Chally (2-for-3) in the third after Jason Croci had led off with a double. In the fourth, Brandon Everett put down a perfect squeeze bunt to score Matt Guenther.
“In the past few years we’ve had some kids who could hit the long ball but we don’t have that with this group,” Hahn said. “So we’re going to have to pick up some runs.”
In the fifth, Chally hit an RBI single and Nate Montgomery drove in another run with a ground out.
Rutkowski gave up four runs, three earned, on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.
“We weren’t able to execute on the bunt and weren’t able to move runners over,” Sarna said. “We had opportunities in this game and obviously we didn’t execute.
“It gives us something to work toward next spring.”