By Alex Strouf
Photo by Steve Schultz
It took 10 innings, but the De Pere Dodgers grabbed their 10th win of the season in a dramatic back-and-forth battle with the Appleton Legends on Thursday night.
In a game that was slated for only seven innings, it originally looked like it could be an ugly one for the Dodgers.
The Legends led off with a three-run first inning that involved three errors by De Pere’s defense. The following inning was a one-run, one-error inning to give Appleton an early 4-0 lead.
It was the bottom of the third when Hunter Staniske (De Pere, Wis.) hit a two-RBI single and advanced to third on an error.
Staniske had four of the five RBI by Dodgers offenders on Thursday night. He finished 3-for-5.
It was a night of back-and-forth ball that compiled 27 hits, eight errors, four ties, and two lead changes.
The Dodgers held a 9-8 lead heading into the seventh inning, but the Legends were not done.
With two outs and two runners in scoring position, Nate De Young hit a short shot to center field to tie the game.
It wasn’t until the bottom of the ninth where it seemed like the game was close to coming to a head.
The Dodgers loaded the bases with just one out, A pair of strikeouts ended that hope. The Legends would also claim bases loaded with two outs in the tenth, but outfielder-turned-pitcher Noah Robinson tossed a five-pitch strikeout to get out of an interesting jam.
In the bottom of the 10th (when it was 30 minutes past 10 o’clock), the Dodgers again loaded the bases, this time with two outs, and first baseman Sam Kohnle (Kewaunee, Wis.) was the hero.
With Michael Manns (Oconto Falls, Wis.) on third, Kohnle only needed to get on base. Though he was 0-for-4 on the night at that point, Kohnle was still confident swinging the bat. It was after four foul balls that Kohnle made fair contact, as he drove a single between the third baseman and shortstop to give the Dodgers their 10th win on the year, 10-9.
Outfielder Zach Abfall (Green Bay, Wis.) was responsible for five of the 15 De Pere hits on Thursday, scoring three of the 10 runs.
“I just tried to stay within myself for the most part, just not trying to get stuff get to wide out and not trying to do too much with each swing,” Abfall said. “I let the pitcher dictate my swing and take it from there.”
Despite the slow start defensively and offensively, De Pere was still able to find a way to get in the win column.
“Early in the game, you take it one pitch at a time, not letting things speed up. We just looked at it and said, ‘Let’s just break it down, not look at the lead,’ and we did that,” said Abfall. “We cut it in half, we got it down to one, and we continued to battle back, and so did they.
“We just persevered as we went back-and-forth throughout the game. It was great to see and get a win.”
The Dodgers are now 10-1 on the season, an ideal start for a club that consists of a lot of new players. As the schedule begins to fill up, Abfall has no doubt the success can continue for the Dodgers, now in their third season in the Wisconsin State League.
“We knew we were going to be shorthanded coming into the season with players from last year not being able to return,” Abfall, a two-year veteran of the Dodgers, said. “We were just trying to get a feel in our first couple of games and I’m super pleased with how we’re playing right now.”
The Dodgers continue their home stand on Saturday when they host the West Allis Nationals in a doubleheader on Saturday. Game one is slated for a 3:00 p.m. first pitch.