“It was my turn to be the hero,” Cottage Grove Firemen first baseman Anthony Bortz said after his home run beat Rio 8-5 Friday in a Home Talent baseball Sunday league makeup game.
With the game tied 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Graham Schroeder-Gasser reached first base after a dropped third strike, and Paul Patten followed with a walk. After Donnie Bryant flew out to center field, Bortz used his strong, level swing to muscle the ball over the left field fence while his teammates cheered in the dugout.
“I was up 2-0 in the count, so I was expecting a good pitch to swing at,” said Bortz, who hit his second homer and Cottage Grove’s 14th of the season.
The cheers almost sounded like a loud sigh of relief for the Firemen, which blew a three-run lead and had to come back from a run down against the Railmen, a much-improved team that had a record of 4-14 in 2017 and 2018.
Cottage Grove scored first in the second inning when Daniel Karlin-Kamin led off with a double and later scored when Jacob Cates grounded into a fielder’s choice.
Graham Schroeder-Gasser singled, and Paul Patten and Donnie Bryant walked to load the bases in the third inning before the Firemen scored on a fielder’s choice by Karlin-Kamin.
Schroeder-Gasser drew a two-out walk in the fourth, stole second and scored on Patten’s base hit to put the Firemen on top 3-0.
After Rio cut the gap to 3-1 in the fourth inning, the Firemen added another run in the sixth as Schroeder-Gasser walked with two outs and came home after Patten slammed the bouncer over the center fielder’s head for a double.
Yet, Rio fought back in the seventh with four runs, two on a triple, to take a 5-4 lead. The Firemen came back in the bottom of the inning as Bortz and Karlin-Kamin led off with walks, and Al Myrold advanced the runners to second and third on a sacrifice bunt. Cates’ groundout to second scored Bortz to tie the game 5-5.
Cottage Grove starter Mitch Kelsey allowed no hits through the first six innings but left the game in the seventh after allowing nine walks and two hits when Rio scored four times.
Karlin-Kamin came on in relief and allowed three hits but no runs in two-plus innings.
Cottage Grove pounded seven hits with Schroeder-Gasser, Karlin-Kamin and Patten each getting two.