Harlem ace handcuffs GenevaGeneva second baseman Luke Polishak catches Machesney Park Harlem's Josh Dickerson off the bag in the Phil Lawler Summer Classic Thursday in St. Charles.
Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media
Geneva’s baseball program had never reached a regional final in summer league play until Thursday’s appearance in the St. Charles East Regional title game against Harlem.
Once there, however, the Vikings’ summer run ran out of steam.
Harlem posted its 17th consecutive win, 9-1, to advance to the Elite Eight of the IHSBCA Phil Lawler Summer Classic for the first time in program history next week at North Central College in Naperville and Benedictine University in Lisle.
“I know it’s summer, but I know that this meant something to them,” Geneva coach Matt Hahn said. “(Wednesday) as an emotional game to win (over top-seeded St. Charles North). But I’m real happy with the whole summer. They were the better team today, and that’s why they’re moving on.”
Harlem (18-1) had the benefit of ace pitcher Drake Robison being able to pitch Thursday. He has spent most of the summer with his traveling team, showcasing his talents for Division I scouts.
But he just so happened to be lined up to start Thursday — in only his third appearance with Harlem’s summer team all season — and he flashed his Division I potential throughout. He retired Geneva in order in the first, including strikeouts of the game’s first two batters.
All told, Robison went the distance, allowing a run on four hits while striking out 10 and walking none.
“He was very, very good,” Hahn said. “That’s one of the top two or three pitchers we’ve seen all summer. They had their No. 1 pitcher. We were down the line on our pitching. We had to use some of our better pitchers just to get here.”
Jeff Konrad was the starter for Geneva (19-10-2) and allowed a leadoff triple to Alex Fluehr in the first to get things going for Harlem. Parker Anderson’s two-run home run in the third pushed the score to 4-0. By the time Fluehr added a two-run single in the fourth, Harlem had a 6-1 lead with its ace on the bump and never looked back.
“We were lucky,” Harlem coach Scott McCloy said of having Robison available. “When you get to the top level where he’s at, trying to fight for Division I scholarships, there’s a lot more traveling. This summer, all of our guys have just been chipping in. This week, we were blessed with our starters going at least 6⅔ innings the past three days. In this heat, that’s pretty impressive.”
Geneva’s lone run came in the fourth when Matt Williams singled, stole second and scored on Jake Weede’s fielder’s choice.
Hahn spoke of the fact that he needed to use Jordan Touro Tuesday against West Aurora and Drew White against St. Charles North Wednesday just to reach the regional final game Thursday, which left him much more reflective on the solid summer than Thursday’s final salvo.
“I don’t put stock in that,” Hahn said. “I put stock in the whole summer, the fact that we got here. We were one of 16 teams still standing.”