The Genesee Rebels stole two games from the North Prairie Dawgs on Sunday afternoon at Veteran's Park in North Prairie. Both teams and the umpires battled heat nearing or above 100 degrees in two closely contested ball games. The Rebels were able to secure a 9-4 victory in game one thanks to a few big innings and then pulled off a come-from-behind victory by scoring three runs in the top of the 7th inning to tie the game before winning in extras. The two wins vault the Rebels above the .500 mark on the season as they now sit securely in 6th place with an 8-7 record.
In game one, veteran Matt DeMarais took the mound for the Rebels and was his usual self. He pitched out of a first and third jam in the first inning but couldn't keep the Dawgs off the scoreboard for long as they plated a run in the second inning to take a 1-0 lead. The Rebels bounced back in the top of the 3rd when the first 6 batters of the inning reached base en route to a 4-run inning. North Prairie tried to claw back in the bottom half of the inning on two solo homers, but it wouldn't be enough as Genesee scored two more runs in the 5th and then three in the 6th to secure the victory. DeMarais kept the 5-9 hitters off balance all day as they combined to go 1 for 15 with only one of those 15 plate appearances reaching base. The Rebels were led offensively by Chris Elliott who went 3 for 4 with 2 runs scored and 1 RBI. Alex Kermendy, Lucas Bourassa, and Keith Koehn each notched two hits for the Rebels as well while Kyle Stasik crossed the plate 3 times in the opener.
Game two was a different story. It was North Prairie who jumped out to a first-inning-lead by scoring three runs on four hits and one Genesee error to put the Rebels in an early hole. Genesee would eventually tie the game in the top of the 4th when Matt Bauer came up with a clutch 2-out, 2-rbi hit. North Prairie wouldn't be outdone though by scoring one more in the 5th and then seemingly driving in the dagger with a two run single in the bottom of the 6th to take a 3-run lead. The top of the 7th proved to be as exciting as it gets in baseball. Chris Elliott led off with a single and moved up to second on a Kyle Stasik groundout. Lucas Bourassa, who entered the game an inning before when Rebels first baseman Mike Balistreri collided with a light pole and the light pole won, then singled and was followed by a Keith Koehn double to the wall. The Rebs had plated two runs and now had the tying run on second with only one out. After Jalen Bilty strike out, Cody Alf came to the plate. With two strikes, Alf punched a soft liner over the third baseman's head which allowed Koehn to score from second. The rebels had battled all the way back and tied the game heading into the bottom of the 7th.
Kahn would shut down the Dawgs in order to bring the game to extras. With ominous "thunder" from a tiny batch of clouds and possible umpire heat stroke threatening to end the game in a tie, it looked like the 8th inning would be the last inning played for the day no matter what happened. With one out, Chris Elliott again got things rolling for Genesee by singling with a liner up the middle. After a Kyle Stasik pop up, Lucas Bourassa came up with two outs and the fleet-footed Elliott on first. Bourassa found himself down in the count 0-2. As the next pitch came, Elliott took off from first base on an apparent steal attempt and Bourassa promptly smashed the ball to the fence in left-center. Elliott huffed and puffed his way around the bases and scored easily from first. The Rebs had taken the lead. A pop out ended the inning, but the damage was done.
In the bottom of the inning, Genesee turned the ball over to its new-found closer, Alex Kermendy, who retired the side in order to notch the save and earn the Rebels a sweet victory. Cody Alf was the big hitter for the Rebels in Game Two, notching 3 hits while Elliott and Bourassa each added two.
With five games left on the season, the Rebels sit securely in 6th place. They next face off with the Racine Kiwanis on Sunday, July 31st at Genesee Town Park. The double-header could prove to be monumental in the final standings as Racine sits directly ahead of the Rebels with a record of 6-4. With the top 6 teams making the playoffs, the Rebels clearly want to continue their winning ways to earn a playoff victory.