DEFIANCE – “This is fun, isn’t it?”
Genoa coach Ron Rightnowar knew the answer when he visited pitcher Luke Rightnowar on the mound and asked with two outs and the bases loaded Thursday. Rightnowar then got Joe Macsay to ground to Kyle Edwards for a force at third to end the game as the Comets recovered from a four-run deficit to top Sherwood Fairview 7-5 in a Division III district semifinal.
“He looked at me,” Luke said of his smiling father’s tilted head before the coach reminded his pitcher to seize the moment. “Then we talked about the hitter. He walked away and I executed.”
Genoa (22-3) plays Lake at 4 p.m. Saturday at Defiance. The Comets beat the Flyers twice during conference play.
Genoa eliminated Fairview from the postseason each of the last three years.
Fairview scored twice in the first and fourth innings and once in the third for a 5-1 advantage. Genoa’s Gabe Scott, Rightnowar and Blake Traver reach base with one out in the bottom of the fourth.
Pinch-runner Noah Edwards and Rightnowar scored when Macsay threw the ball into left field trying for a force at third. Traver scored on a sacrifice fly from Cody Pickard.
“When you’re not pitching your best at all, you have to focus and fight through it,” Luke said of the emotional roller coaster. “It’s one inning at a time. Once we started scoring we made all the players after it was shaky early.
“That’s what good teams do.”
Jake Wojciechowski singled and scored on a wild pitch after Nick Wolfe sacrificed him to second. Matt Aumiller singled and scored the go-ahead run on a groundout from Matt Bradfield.
Bradfield was 2 for 3 on Thursday. He loves being the designated hitter.
“I like to DH because it gives me time to see the pitcher and what he’s doing,” Bradfield said. “I can get in the cage. It’s not that I don’t like playing the field, but I can prepare for each at-bat.”
Bradfield has been among Genoa’s hottest hitters of late.
“In the beginning of the season I struggled quite a bit,” he said. “You have to time it up. There’s no better time to be hot. I’m just trying to do my job. The coaches believed in me every moment of every at-bat.
“I just had to believe in myself. I’ve seen the ball well lately.”
The game plan against Macsay was kept simple as Genoa’s leadoff batter reached base the first five innings.
“We had to get in the box and hit it hard on the ground,” Bradfield said. “Don’t try to do too much and if you saw a fastball in the zone you had to hit. We got hits when it counted.”
Pickard walked, stole second and scored on an error in the first before Traver walked and capped the scoring on a single from Edwards.
“We have a bunch of guys who love to fight on this team,” Bradfield said. “We’re an unselfish group. We’ll hit it the other way and then the next guy steps up. We trust each other.”
Rightnowar (8-1) established a program record with the 25th victory of his career. He left multiple runners stranded in scoring position in three innings and one in two others.
“Give all the glory to God,” Luke said. “I couldn’t’ have done it without him. It’s a pretty cool feeling. When I first came to Genoa, doing that wasn’t a thought. I knew I had a chance this year and if I didn’t press I could get it.
“(Thursday), my teammates helped (bail) me out. Without them, we don’t win.”