Having spent 41 seasons strolling between the dugout and the third base coaches box, St. Cloud Cathedral coach Bob Karn has seen just about everything a coach can see.
So when his No. 1-ranked Crusaders spotted Fairmont a three-run lead in the top of the first inning, by bunching a game’s worth of mistakes into a single frame, Karn took stock of his team.
“They didn’t have that look,” Karn said. “They weren’t hanging their heads. They were still connected.”
As usual, Karn was spot on.
St. Cloud Cathedral pulled itself together and played six flawless innings thereafter, rallying for a 5-3 victory.
Starting pitcher Matt Dietmann embodied the Crusaders’ comeback. After hitting two batters and giving up two hits in the first inning, Dietmann was nearly untouchable. He did not surrender a hit over the final six innings of the game, rendering a Fairmont team that entered Friday averaging nearly 10 runs per game punchless.
While Dietmann was taking control of the Fairmont hitters, the Crusaders offense started to get untracked against Fairmont starter Ben Kain. They scratched out runs in the second and third innings and chased him in the fifth after Kain walked the first two batters of the inning.
Both came around to score as Cathedral took the lead — and control of the game — with a three-run rally.
“Their pitcher was better than our pitcher,” Fairmont coach Todd Sukaski said. “We were walking guys, and they were hitting line drives. We started holding our breath, hoping those line drives were hit at someone.”
Flush with a two-run lead, Dietmann was determined to finish the game that began so dreadfully, despite a curveball that wasn’t biting.
“I got goosebumps when our team started to come back,” said Dietmann, who also singled twice and drove in two runs. “There was no way I wasn’t finishing this.”