SAUGET, Ill. — Josh Dima made as much of an impression as he could Monday on the Belleville West baseball program.
The recent graduate's senior season was wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic. He transferred to West after playing three seasons at Althoff.
But Dima got to play with his Maroons teammates for the only time in the opener of the four-game exhibition Sandlot Series hosted by the Gateway Grizzlies at GCS Ballpark.
An Illinois State signee, Dima helped the Maroons to a 13-6 victory against Gibault. He was the starting pitcher and struck out five in two no-hit innings and from right field threw out a Gibault runner at home plate to end the game.
"It was nice because we had big expectations this year," Maroons pitcher Colin Shea said. "To be able to play one game with everyone was nice."
The Sandlot Series continued Monday with Edwardsville's 5-1 victory against Granite City.
It concludes with a pair of games Tuesday. Highland faces Mascoutah at 4:30 p.m., with Belleville East taking on Freeburg in the nightcap.
Per Illinois High School Association rules, high school coaches were not allowed to be involved. Parents and players organized the teams.
"There was no way I'd miss this," said Gibault's Tim Reinholz, who has signed with Quincy University. "I'm just so appreciative of the Grizzlies making this possible."
Dima was one of five pitchers Belleville West deployed, including fellow southpaw Joey Kossina, a Southeast Missouri State signee.
"It's great to get one last final time out there to have fun," Kossina said. "I have a lot of buddies on the other team. It was fun to take the field with my guys one last time."
Reinholz helped lead the effort for Gibault by going 1-for-2 with two walks and an RBI.
The Hawks finished second in Class 1A in 2019.
Despite the seven-run difference in the final score, Gibault had the bases loaded with one out in the ninth inning.
Shea induced a fly ball to right field, and Dima delivered a highlight from the outfield by firing a strike on a line to home plate to gun the runner out at home to end the game. Shea said he knew there was a chance when the ball was lifted into right field that the game could end on the play.
"I know he's got a great arm because he's a Division I pitcher," Shea said.
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