After a three-inning slugfest to start the game, the bats got very quiet for Cottage Grove and Monona on Friday night in their Home Talent League baseball game at Fireman’s Park.
With his Firemen up by a run entering the fourth inning, reliever Al Dimmig seemed to take matters into his own hands by retiring 18 Braves in a row as Cottage Grove hung on for a 7-6 victory. The right hander had three strikeouts in six innings as the Braves put the ball in play but couldn’t produce a baserunner.
“My arm felt good, and I just stayed ahead in the count,” Dimmig said. “My curve ball was working wel, and I had some great defense behind me. That’s the life of a pitcher. You have to be ready when your time comes.”
Monona co-manager Vince Schmitz said Dimmig helped his cause by throwing strikes.
“He’s always pitches well against us,” Schmitz said. “You have to give Al credit for picking his team up when Cottage Grove needed something.”
Monona starter Corey Schmidt left the game after five innings as Andy Swanson took over in the sixth and put in his own remarkable effort with eight strikeouts. He only allowed two baserunners on a walk and an error.
Before that, Schmidt and Cottage Grove starter Daniel Karlin-Kamin allowed a combined 13 runs and 13 hits. Monona opened the game with a two-run first inning as Schmitz drove one in with a double and Casey Seelow’s sacrifice fly produced the second run.
The Braves opened their lead to 5-0 in the second, as left-handed hitting Dan Stefansky smacked a leadoff home run, and Taylor Carlson drove in two runs with a round tripper over the center-field fence.
But Cottage Grove rallied for six runs in the bottom of the second as Anthony Bortz, and Karlin-Kamin and Mitch Kelsey singled to load the bases for Jacob Cates, who reached base on an error while Bortz crossed the plate. With the bags still full, Tanner Dahlhauser drew a bases-loaded walk for Cottage Grove’s second run and Tristan Herber cut the gap to 5-3 with an RBI single. Graham Schroeder-Gasser was safe at first on another infield hit to bring in the tying runs, and Paul Patten’s RBI single gave the Firemen a 6-5 lead.
Monona third baseman Jordan Carlson tied the game with a solo homer in the third inning, but Cottage Grove put up what turned out to be the winning run in the bottom of third when Bortz led off with a double and later scored from third base on a groundout by Cates.
After Dimmig and Swanson entered the game, the bats went quiet and what started out a scoring fest turned into a pitching duel.
“It was a tale of two games today, and that’s why you play nine innings,” Schmitz said. “Cottage Grove pushed the right buttons, and they got the right guys in there.”
Bortz, Karlin-Kamin and Kelsey each had two of the Firemen’s 10 hits. The Braves had six hits as Stefanski led the way with two.