Dodgers defeat Gaels, win title
The return of the Fort Dodge-St. Edmond baseball game was a welcome sight on a near-perfect afternoon here Monday at Rogers Park.
Meeting for the first time since 2014, the Dodgers picked up a 10-0 victory in five innings over the Gaels in the St. Edmond Memorial Day Tournament.
Jace Ulrich threw a two-hitter — striking out nine — while Dylan Zimmermann belted a two-run homer for Fort Dodge.
Drake Callon reached twice and stole two bases, Christian Davidson had an RBI-triple, and Eli Elsbecker was 2-for-3 to lead the Dodgers.
“I’m glad we were able to get back in this tournament,” FDSH head coach Blake Utley said. “It was good for the guys to get some confidence back and it was a great way to celebrate Memorial Day. We’ve got a lot of baseball players in this town, and we had a great crowd here. It was exciting to be playing St. Edmond again.”
For the Gaels (1-1), John Nemmers and Devon Wirtz each had a hit, while Grant Heldorfer reached on a walk.
“We knew it was going to be a tough matchup,” SEHS head coach Mike Szalat said. “But I felt like our guys battled. It’s tough to see improvement when you play a team like Fort Dodge, but we gave it everything.”
Batting as the home team in the first, the Dodgers plated a run on the Davidson triple, which scored Callon. Davidson came around to score, making it 2-0.
That would be all the run support Ulrich needed, as the junior left-hander retired seven of the first eight he faced before allowing a single to Wirtz. Ulrich struck out six of the first 10 batters, and had two strikeouts in the first, second, third and fourth innings.
“Jace looked good,” Utley said. “And the big thing was he went the distance and kept his pitch count down. He was throwing strikes and working quickly.”
Fort Dodge took advantage of its speed in the second inning, stealing three bases to pick up another run. They added three more in the third, two in the fourth off Zimmermann’s blast and finished it off with two more in the fifth off RBI singles by Dalton Rosalez and Alex Underwood.
“It was a positive to see us get our bats going,” Utley said. “We’ve had a busy start to the season here and hopefully this gets us going moving forward.”
St. Edmond, coming off a season-opening victory over Emmetsburg, had runners on second in the second and third innings, but failed to get runs home.
Emanuel Perry struck out three batters in his first start of the year for the Gaels.
Szalat, a history teacher at St. Edmond, also noted the importance of continuing to have this event on a holiday weekend.
“It should mean a lot to these kids being able to play baseball,” Szalat said. “Years ago, kids close to their age were going off to war, so I hope the significance of them being able to compete and the freedom to do this is recognized.”
The Dodgers (2-3 overall) finished off the tournament title by besting No. 10 (Class 1A) Newell-Fonda, 15-5. Ulrich hit a two-run homer with Elsbecker earning the win on the mound.
Callon was 3-for-4 with three runs scored, Davidson had two hits and drove in three, Ulrich was 2-for-3 with two RBI and three runs, and Elsbecker, Grant Williams and Tyler Schreier each drove in a run.
Mason Dicks and Ryan Greenfield each drove in two runs for the Mustangs, who earlier in the day posted a 4-3 victory over West Marshall.
The Gaels (1-2) fell 17-5 to West Marshall in the third-place game. Wirtz was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBI. Nemmers and Tyler McDowell both added two hits each.
All three doubled.
“We swung the bats better, but there’s still a lot we need to clean up,” Szalat said. “Devon, Tyler and John were aggressive and had good approaches. Devon is just kind of getting back into the swing of things with baseball after (playing) golf (through state last week), but he’s been a positive influence right away on the younger guys.
“It wasn’t a very good day overall. I told the guys we need to learn from it, flush it and move on. You can’t give teams extra outs or at-bats and expect a positive outcome. We need to work on growing our baseball accumen. But it’s just hard to simulate some of the things we saw today in practice. We’ll bounce back and move forward.”
Fort Dodge heads to Ankeny Centennial on Tuesday night. St. Edmond faces Southeast Valley at Rogers Park on Tuesday.