Monday, April 28, 2008

Gross twins wreak havoc on league

Sun Prairie manager Scott Knorr almost had to suit up and play at Sunday’s Home Talent League Eastern section opening day game at Marshall. In fact, Knorr didn’t even get the chance to hit the usual infield practice to his players before the game was about to begin. He, himself, had to take some grounders at second base in case he had to play.

Fortunately enough, a ninth player showed up minutes before the opening pitch. There was no need to sweat, though. Knorr had the Gross twins, Adam and Aaron, with him all along. Combined, they almost account for three players.

Considered as two of the better players in the Home Talent League, the Gross brothers have been terrorizing opponents for years. They both pitch. Aaron’s a lefty, Adam’s a righty. And one will often enter the game in relief of the other.

And it’s not like they sit in the dugout when they’re not pitching. They’ll play some combination of outfield or first base when they’re not on the mound.

They would end up losing the opening day game, but that marked Marshall player/manager Todd Grossman’s first win versus Sun Prairie in 13 years of Home Talent play.

“They both throw really well,” said Grossman. “They’re very accurate, and they keep you on your toes. They’ll throw you inside, outside, up and down. They keep you unbalanced as a hitter. But they’re going to throw strikes. You just have to hit it. They’re one of the tougher ones in the league. And they’re good hitters too.”

It wasn’t that long ago that the Gross twins led Sun Prairie to a league title. Knorr was lucky enough to be coaching Adam and Aaron back in 2005 when they won it all. And he probably couldn’t have done it without them.

“Adam definitely was (one of the better players in the league) the year we won it,” explains Knorr. “He was probably one of the top five pitchers in the league if not the top.

“That year (Aaron) was our backup. Last year he was our primary because Adam was hurt. But Aaron is very capable. He would be a starter on a lot of teams.”

Success is something they’re used to. Even before they started playing amateur baseball, they led Sun Prairie to a state championship back in high school.

But the days of the Gross brothers making a menace to the rest of the league might come to an end sooner rather than later. Don’t be fooled, they’re still very capable. It’s just that they’re 28 years old, and they’re both fathers now. And they’ve got that Home Talent title under their belts to help them rest easy. There’s no unfinished business to take care of.

At least for the moment being, teams like Marshall will still be worrying about how to attack the Gross twins.

“I feel like I can still play at a competitive level,” said Adam.

“I feel that I don’t want to hang it up until I can’t be competitive anymore,” echoed Aaron, “and until I see that there’s young guys that need to be playing more.

“We don’t have too many young ones yet, though. I’m starting to worry. I ain’t getting any younger,” laughed Aaron as he realized he might have to be sticking around a little bit longer.

That’s bad news for the rest of the Home Talent League.

Pictured: Adam Gross

Photo credit: Brian Carriveau

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Jefferson gains momentum

I'll admit, my knowledge of Home Talent baseball is limited as of yet. I'm learning a lot all the time, but I still have a long ways to go.

But if you would have asked me who would have won last weekend's Fort Atkinson exhibition tournament, the last team I would have said is Jefferson.

Just look at the teams the tournament boasted.

Monona was last year's Home Talent League grand champions.

Fort Atkinson was undefeated in regular season play a year ago.

And Middleton won the East Division of the Northern Section with a 15-1 record.

Those are no slouches. And Jefferson got by them all to win the tournament. Congratulations to the Blue Devils as they enter the regular season on a high note.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Hoping for some sunshine

A little recap of what's going down in the Home Talent League is deserved. It's been an unpredictable spring in terms of weather so far, and teams have had a hard time getting things going on the wet fields.

Last Saturday's game on April 12 between Jefferson and Dodgeville had to be cancelled due to rainy/snowy weather. Fortunately it looks like both teams will be able to get play underway this weekend, though.

After last Saturday's unseasonable snow, Fort Atkinson traveled up to Rio to get in an exhibition game the following day. While the rain and snow ceased, the game was played in cold conditions. Fort came out on top, 8-4, for an early season victory.

This weekend looks a little bit better in terms of Mother Nature playing a part in the teams' fate. Fort Atkinson is holding an exhibition tournament on both Saturday and Sunday. Things get underway with Fort hosting Monona at 1:00 on the first day with Jefferson playing Middleton to follow.

The losers from Saturday play at 1:00 on Sunday with the championship game afterwards around 3:15.

Dodgeville is able to make up for last weekend's cancelled game with a pair over the next two days. The Knights host Cazenovia on Saturday and travel to Cottage Grove on Sunday.

The forecast looks like rain early Saturday although diminishing later in the day. Games should be able to get in. And an even better weather forecast is in the works for Sunday with highs nearing 70 degrees.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The bus stops here

This upcoming weekend will see a few more Home Talent League teams start their exhibition schedules.

The first stop on the baseball tour will be in Jefferson on Saturday where the Blue Devils take on Dodgeville in both teams' pre-season opener.

The following day will see Fort Atkinson travel to Rio to challenge the Railmen in another exhibition. The game will act as a prelude to Fort Atkinson's tournament the following weekend where several area teams will test their mettle before league play begins in about a month.

Of course, the weather doesn't exactly seems like it's going to cooperate. And even if it does, there may not be enough time for the playing fields to dry out before Saturday rolls around due to previously soggy weather.

So I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope I'm not left twiddling my thumbs over the weekend.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Stoughton upends Marshall

Because the Saturday April 5th game between Utica and Marshall was cancelled, the Stoughton-Marshall game the following day became the opening game of the Home Talent League.

Pitching was ahead of hitting at this early date as Stoughton got past Marshall 3-0 on only five hits. In fact, the two teams combined for only nine hits, and not a single one of them went for extra bases.

Both coaches, as can be expected, were pleased with their pitching but thought their hitting could be improved.

The next Home Talent exhibition is slated for Saturday when Dodgeville travels to Jefferson.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Play ball!

The road trip begins.

Marshall and Utica are among the first Home Talent League teams to kick off the 2008 season with an exhibition game on Saturday.

The game begins at 1:00 at Fireman's Park when Marshall hosts Utica. Let's keep our fingers crossed for sunny weather.