By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Cheese get all they need ... a win
Monroes Alex Dammen (23) celebrates his walkoff single in the bottom of the seventh inning with teammate Alex Capesius. Monroe had been tied at 2-2 with Big Foot in the opening round of the WIAA Division 2 state playoffs before loading the bases. Monroe will now travel to Edgerton to face the Crimson Tide on Tuesday, June 2.
MONROE - It wasn't pretty, but the Cheesemakers pulled off a seven-inning 3-2 walkoff win against Walworth Big Foot in the opening round of the WIAA Division 2 baseball playoffs Friday.

"Some of the things we are doing right end up making the game a little harder for us," Monroe head coach Steve Christensen said. "It's never easy."

Southpaw Mike Demianiuk allowed one earned run while striking out seven, and senior center fielder Alex Dammen hit a walkoff single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning to pick up the win for the Cheese.

"We needed a game like that from Mike. It would be nice if we got him a few more runs, but he gave us the game we needed," Christensen said.

Demianiuk opened up the first inning by striking out the side.

"I wanted to do the best I could and throw strikes," Demianiuk said. "I just found my groove at the beginning of the game and tried to stay there."

Big Foot scored in the first when a base hit up the middle bounced passed Dammen in center and the runner on first scored.

Monroe finally got its bats going in the fourth. Taylor Weckerly led off with a walk and Mike Rear pounded a single into left. A balk by Chiefs pitcher Devin Cochran put the runners on second and third, and Demianiuk helped his own cause with an RBI groundout to second to tie the score.

Monroe's next batter, Kris Rieder, fouled a 1-0 pitch off his forehead. After taking a few minutes to regroup, he stood back in the box, worked the count full and drove in Rear with a single to left.

Big Foot tied the score in the top of the fifth. Jordan Gottman doubled off the left-field fence to lead off the inning, but was caught in a pickle just a few pitches later when Steve Dowden's grounder skipped right to Weckerly at third. Weckerly chased Gottman down. However, because of three throws during the rundown, Dowden made it safely to second.

"If we would have finished the rundown in one or two throws like we're supposed to, they don't get that guy to second and we probably don't allow a run," Christensen said.

Big Foot catcher Ryan Earnest then hit a weak double that dropped onto the line in shallow right, driving in the tying run.

In the bottom of the sixth, Demianiuk reached on a two-out error. Courtesy runner Gabe Hermanson stole second, and on ball four to Rieder went to steal third, but turned around at the last moment to head back to second. Earnest's throw back to second wound up in center field, which allowed both Hermanson and Rieder to advance. However, the Cheesemakers could not punch in the go-ahead run.

Demianiuk went 1-2-3 in the third, thanks to a nifty double play by shortstop Cory Kundert, who caught a laser before getting the runner out at first. Kundert then led off the home half of the seventh with a walk, positioning the Cheese for some late-game heroics in front of one of the biggest home crowds in recent memory.

Justin Rackow came in to pinch run for Kundert, and Taylor Riese pinch hit for Matt Whipple with hopes of laying down a sacrifice bunt. A wild pitch moved Rackow into scoring position, and Riese soon fell into a 3-0 count.

"That 3-0 count can really hurt you when you're bunting, because it takes away one of your good strikes. You don't want to bunt a bad one on what would maybe be a walk," Christensen said. "But to his credit he battled, fought off a pitch and came through for us with a big hit."

Cochran pitched his way back to a full count, but Riese hammered the seventh pitch in the at-bat to right field, putting runners at the corners. Any softer, and Rackow may have been able to score.

Big Foot then intentionally walked leadoff hitter Scott Kline, who already had singled and walked. With the bases loaded and no outs, the attention was on Dammen.

"I didn't even know they walked Scott. I was practicing my swing and realized it was my turn. Then my heart started pounding," Dammen said. "I saw it most of the way, and then I just let the bat go. I've never really been in that situation before."

The hit was just the sixth for the Cheesemakers, but it allowed them to advance on to play No. 1 seed Edgerton on Tuesday, June 2. Mike Rear will take the mound for Monroe.

"It's a very mental game right now. If we play like we can, it can be a very competitive game," Christensen said.