Adam Geibel batted .309 as a sophomore for Evanston’s varsity baseball team and ranked third on the squad in total hits.
He never imagined it would take so long to get his next hit in an ETHS uniform.
Geibel finally made his 2017 debut Wednesday after being sidelined by a bad shoulder all season, collecting two walks and a single as the Wildkits knocked off visiting Payton Prep 10-1 for their fifth victory in a row.
Geibel missed the first 13 games due to a deltoid strain in his right (throwing) arm and all he could do was watch from the bench during workouts in March and April.
When he finally got clearance from his physician to try to play through the pain, it was like Christmas in April for the junior infielder.
Ironically, he didn’t even get to swing the bat through his first two at-bats Wednesday, drawing four-pitch walks both times. He lined a 2-2 pitch down the right field line for his first hit of the season leading off the fifth inning and eventually came around to score.
“He loves the game of baseball so much, and I know the last month has been so frustrating for him,” said Evanston coach Frank Consiglio after his team improved to 9-5 on the year. “I saw a lot of fake smiles from Adam before, but today was the first time I saw that real smile. He was so excited to get the chance to start today, and it’s huge for us to have him back in the lineup. He really solidifies the infield for us and it’s just awesome that he’s back.”
“It’s been a rough couple of weeks — I guess it’s more than a couple — and it really feels great to be back,” Geibel admitted. “I’m only about 80 percent, but the doctor gave me clearance to play through the pain and now that’s what I’m going to try to do. My arm feels pretty good right now, although I feel some twinges here and there. It’s nothing I can’t play through. I feel great!
“At one of our practices (back in February) I felt a pinch in my arm, and then went I went to hit I felt a real stabbing pain in my shoulder. I did a lot of physical therapy trying to build the strength around the deltoid. Now I’m just trying to push through it.
“It was really tough to watch everyone else playing. I tried to be there for my teammates and cheer them on, but it was tough. At one point I thought I might not be able to play the entire month of April.”
After claiming the starting job at third base last year, Geibel started at second base on Wednesday and could remain there. Arm strength isn’t the issue, because Consiglio is still shuffling his infielders between second and third to try to find the right combination.
Geibel was involved in Payton’s only hit, as he couldn’t handle a flare off the bat of Payton’s Hank Fritzmann leading off the fourth inning. The play was ruled a hit, and the Grizzlies didn’t come close to another hit against the ETHS mound trio of Chris Brown, Jake Snider and Will Peterson.
Starter (and winner) Brown struck out 10 and walked 6 in an erratic performance that lasted 98 pitches and just four full innings. Snider and Peterson mopped up with a scoreless inning apiece.
Consiglio, continuing a familiar theme for his red-hot team, said that Brown’s inconsistency has been the result of his inability to adjust within the framework of a bad inning on the mound.
“Chris was much better today after the first inning (when he walked four batters in a row to force in the only run),” Consiglio said. “I thought he was a different kid out there after that first inning. He has a difficult time when he loses his (arm) slot during an inning, and we’re still working on how we can help him re-set during an inning instead of after he comes in to the bench like he usually does.”
On offense, Evanston capitalized on 10 free passes issued by three Payton hurlers, plus four errors by the losers. Only four of the Wildkit runs were earned as they tallied three times in the second, three in the third, once in the fourth and three more in the fifth.
Senior catcher Charlie Krause went 2-for-2 with a sacrifice fly and two runs-batted-in for the hosts and six different players — Krause, Jake Urdangen, Joe Epler, Joe Snapp, Oliver Baldwin-Edwards and Snider — drove in runs for the winners.
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.