The Genesee Rebels etched their first win of the season on Sunday when the Express from East Troy came to town on a rainy afternoon. The game was highlighted by good pitching, solid defense, and clutch hitting as Genesee found themselves on top of a hard fought 5-4 ball game. It was the first victory of the year for the Rebels who handed East Troy their first loss of the season.
Both starting pitchers came out dealing early. Matt DeMarais took the mound for the Rebels and started off with four scoreless innings while Jeff Smith took the ball for East Troy and had a perfect game going through three before back-to-back doubles by the Rebels Matt Bauer and Keith Koehn plated the first run of the game. The lead was short-lived however as Jeff Smith and Todd Nabor got the Express rolling with a lead off double and two-run shot over the pine trees in right. The Rebels tied it up in the bottom of the 5th with Mike Hodel scoring on a Nick Heckenkamp double to left-center. After 5 complete, the score was tied at 2 apiece.
East Troy looked to take a commanding lead in the top of the 6th as Jeff Tess lead off with a single and moved to third on a Josh Oswald single. With runners on first and third with one out, the Rebels were in a jam. A wild pitch later had Tess crossing the plate and Oswald moving up to 2nd. The inning had the makings of another Rebel meltdown, but, two pitches later, DeMarais promptly picked Oswald off of 2nd base and then induced an inning ending ground out to first base.
The Rebels would wait until the bottom of the 7th to take the lead for good. The bottom of the order, which has been the achilles heal for the Rebels thus far in the season, came up huge. Mark Switalski lead off with a walk and moved up to second on rookie Brandon Molkentin's first Land O Lakes hit. Matt Bauer continued his hot streak at the plate with a single that loaded the bases with one out. Keith Koehn hit a hard ground ball to short which looked like it might lead to an inning-ending double-play, but the Express were unable to turn two as Switalski crossed the plate to make it 3-3. Chris Elliott then hit a rocket to Center Field which hit off the wall, scoring two runs and giving the Rebels a 5-3 lead.
DeMarais stayed out on the mound for the 8th and stranded a runner on 3rd base to maintain the 2-run lead heading into the 9th. The Express made it interesting in the 9th as Oswald led off with a single and moved to third when Koehn threw a Jeff Smith groundball into right field. With first and third and nobody out, it looked as if the wheels might come off. DeMarais and the Rebels pulled it out, however, with three straight popups to end the game.
The win was desperately needed by the Rebels who dropped their first two games of the year to Waterford and North Prairie respectively. It was a solid team effort and a great win against a very good East Troy team. Matt Bauer lead the Rebels with two hits on the day while Elliott and Koehn each drove in 2 runs apiece. As mentioned earlier, rookie Brandon Molkentin looked more comfortable in his at-bats and played a solid 2nd base. Mark Switalski made a superb catch down the right field line to save a run late in the game and Nick Heckenkamp battled off a week-long illness to catch 9 strong innings behind the plate. DeMarais had a solid outing on the mound allowing 9 hits while striking out 4 and walking none. He took a rocket line drive off his chest and left arm in the 3rd inning but was able to stay in the game after surviving the near death experience.
The Rebels are back in action next Sunday when they travel to Oconomowoc to take on the Titans.