Merrill nine up and down
The Bluejay baseball team forged a split in its last week of Valley action, dropping a 4-0 contest to Wausau East on Tuesday, but bouncing back with a 3-0 win over D.C. Everest.
“We just didn’t come up with the clutch hit,” MHS coach Brian Artac said. “(Against East) one inning we had the bases loaded with no outs and didn’t score.
“That almost plagued us on Thursday, too. We had a bunch of guys on base. We’ve got to put the runs on the board when they’re offered.”
Merrill scored all three runs in the third inning of Thursday’s home game. Alex Cordova singled and Dylan Burkam ripped his 5th homer of the season to left-center. Luke Golisch was hit by a pitch and courtesy runner Jake Hintze advanced when Kyle Kubichek was hit by a pitch. A fielder’s choice and throwing error scored Hintze.
“(Burkam) pounded that one,” Artac said.
That was more than enough, since Cordova (0 W, 4 K, 0 R in 7 I) fired a one-hit gem.
“That was keeping the ball down,” Artac said. “Even the hit they got was a little doink; (#9 hitter Vince Collelo) scooped it into center.”
Merrill ended up stranding 8 runners in the contest, including two each in the first two innings.
The Jays tied East for fifth in the WVC with a 4-8 mark, and D.C.E. ended up in the cellar at 2-10.
“Getting back into the Valley was a little bit of a wake-up call for some of these guys,” Artac said. “I’ll be honest, I was hoping for .550. We really could have been. That’s just two more games and we lost 5-4 to Marshfield and 2-0 to (WVC champ) West. We lost 7-2 to Everest when we out-hit them 11-7.”
The Jays also fell 16-14 at SPASH.
Merrill was 11-11 heading into Tuesday’s regional opener at 6th-seed Hudson, in a game too late for this issue. The Jays were seeded 11th in the 12-team sectional that includes two top-10 teams in Eau Claire North and Chippewa Falls.
“Thank God we beat Everest, so we could go into the tournament with a win,” Artac said.
Merrill managed just five hits-including a pair from Jordan Burton-off East’s Ryan Zweck in Tuesday’s road loss.
“I’ll tell you what, that kid pitched a hell of a game against us,” Artac said. “Any game in the Valley that they won, he won. Even the game we beat him, we beat him 4-3.
“Everybody throws their ace against us. Even Everest saved their ace for us because they knew they weren’t going to beat West on Tuesday. You know what? That’s all right.”
East scored twice in the second, once in the third and once more in the sixth.
Burton and Kubichek doubled in the third and fourth innings, respectively, then stranded there. Jack Osness and Michael Koppelman singled to lead off the sixth, and Cordova walked to load the path, but two strikeouts and a grounder ended the threat.
Golisch (9 H, 5 W, 1 K, 4 R, 2 ER in 6 I) took the loss.
Zweck struck out 8 and walked just one.