Drew Dunkleberger didn’t have any malice toward any of his former teammates.
Dunkleberger started on the mound and hit a two-run double in the seven-run eighth inning as Fort Atkinson earned a 12-2 victory over Lake Mills in Home Talent Sunday League Southeast Section action on Tuesday at Jones Park.
Dunkleberger spent the previous two years playing for the Lake Mills Grays, so it was nearly a certainty that he would get the start against his old mates.
“I haven’t pitched for a while and I did play for Lake Mills for a few years and they are a bunch of good guys, so I just wanted to have fun and see how I stacked up against them,” Dunkleberger said. “They’re good hitters who put the ball in play, but I knew they were good hitters, so I wanted to see how I would do against them.”
Last season, it wasn’t uncommon for Dunkleberger to fan 10 batters in a game. On Tuesday, he settled for nine strikeouts and gave up five hits, two earned runs and one walk.
“This was his game to pitch and he looked great the whole game,” manager Sam Hartwick said. “They got a couple of runs here and there, but he pitched well and threw strikes. He hit his spots and used his curveball effectively and didn’t give up any extra-base hits.”
Fort Atkinson rookie Dayne Sebranek hit a pair of doubles in his first game after taking the weekend off for the Senior Legion Regionals in Union Grove where Post 166 lost in the regional final to Waterford on Sunday.
Sebranek hit a two-run double in the eighth inning before Dunkleberger’s double. Chris Koepke finished the contest with a single to left field which plated Dunkleberger to end the game.
It took a while for Fort Atkinson to pour on the runs, though. The Generals took a 2-0 lead in the first and a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning after Ty Schieber hit a sacrifice fly to score Owen Chady.
Sebranek doubled in the first inning to give Fort Atkinson runners on second and third for veteran Dan Dean, who doubled Sebranek and Chase Davis home to give Fort Atkinson an early lead.
“It’s big to get an early against teams like Lake Mills (that are near the bottom of the standings),” Hartwick said. “But it’s also big to get an early lead and not just sit on it like we did today. ...
“It was a little too close for a while. Having that good inning at the end obviously gave us a win, but it eased a lot of stress off of the team because they loosened up a lot after we took a 5-2 lead (in the sixth inning) and then the floodgates opened up after that.
“But it was definitely big for us to get out to a lead like that against a team that can bite your ankles.”
And it was important for Dunkleberger to have a quality start considering the Generals have a Night League game against Jefferson on Thursday with playoff seeding implications, an exhibition trip to Poynette for the Indians’ Fan Appreciation Night and a tilt with Albion, the top team in the Southeast Section, on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
“I pitched for fun in this game, but I knew I had to eat up some innings because we’re going to need some arms in these big games,” Dunkleberger said. “Thursday night is a big game for us to stay at the top of the standings in the Thursday night league. On Saturday, that’s a big one. We need that game, so we need arms to be ready for that game.”
FORT ATKINSON 12, LAKE MILLS 2 (F8)
Grays 000 101 00X — 2 5 3
Generals 200 102 07X — 12 16 0
Pitching (ip-h-er-bb-so) — LM: Strasburg (L) 6-10-3-0-2, Carpenter 1-1-0-0-1, Hosey 0.1-5-6-3-0, FA: Dunkleberger (W) 8-5-2-1-9.
Leading hitters — FA: Sebranek 3x5 (2 2Bs), Crandall 3x5, Schieber 2B, Dunkleberger 2x5 (2B), Dean 3x5 (2B); LM: Hosey 2x3.