Merrill Post 46 rocks RSW to turn around rough start
The season could hardly have started in worse fashion for Merrill’s American Legion Post 46 baseball team.
In the season opener they immediately fell behind 7-0 in last Tuesday’s home game with talented Plover before ultimately losing 14-4.
Then rain killed Wednesday’s contest with Rhinelander and postponed Saturday’s double header with River Falls for almost 3-1/2 hours before letting up just long enough to tease the teams into thinking they could play more than the three innings they managed. It won’t be made up.
But a new day dawned on Monday, as the locals traveled to Schofield and defeated RSW-a team that had already knocked off Wausau-by a 10-5 tally.
“It was a big win for them,” Merrill manager Rob Klug said. “It seems like it had been forever since we had a game. We’ve got a lot scheduled coming up.”
Merrill was the one to build a 7-0 lead in this game, although it was forged over four at-bats.
Luke Golisch got it started with a one-out single in the first inning. Alex Cordova reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and scored on Michael Detert’s single. Post 46 then stranded a pair, but got right back at it in the second.
Michael Koppelman walked, moved up on a passed ball and Matt Woller single and scored on a Jack Osness hit. Golisch doubled in a run and Cordova singled home another run for a 4-1 lead.
Merrill loaded the bases with one out and didn’t score in the third, but Post 46 quickly turned that around in the fourth, with consecutive singles by Cordova and Detert, and an RBI double by Dylan Burkam. Koppelman ripped a two-run single to make it 7-0 but was left at third.
Cordova limited the RSW damage to one run in the fourth despite giving up a walk and two singles before collecting an out. A strike-out and come-backer left the bases loaded with no runs, but a single finally did some damage.
RSW scored once in the fifth and three times in the sixth off reliever Tim Jahnke, before Burkam entered and struck out five of the six batters he faced. An error led to his only baserunner.
Merrill had boosted it to 9-2 in the top of the sixth, Detert walked and advanced on wild pitches before getting home on a Burkam grounder. A Ray Paul single and error put Paul on third and he scored on a short fly ball.
Detert (3-4), Golisch (2-4, 2B, 2 R), Cordova (2-5, 2 R), Burkam (1-3, 2B, 2 RBI) and Koppelman (1-1, 2 RBI) paced the balanced Merrill attack that came up with 13 hits.
“We hit the ball really well,” Klug said. “The majority of our hits were up the middle, which is good to see.
“It was a team win. We got contributions from everybody, and everybody played.
“We played a really clean game. There was one error in the bottom of the seventh that could have been an infield single.”
Cordova (5 H, 1 W, 5 K, 1 R, 1 ER in 4 I) took the win and Jahnke (3 H, 3 W, 4 R, 4 ER in 1-1/3 I) and Burkam (0 H, 0 W, 5 K, 0 R in 1-2/3 I) relieved.
“Cordova looked pretty sharp,” Klug said. “They had five hits off him and two were legit. Dylan looked a lot sharper (than vs. Plover) when he came in to finish the game.”
Plover in clover
The visitors thought their start smelled sweet, picking up six hits, including 3 doubles and a homer, in a first inning extended by two outfield errors.
“It wasn’t the way you want to start a season or a game,” Klug said. “They hit the ball really well and we gave them some extra outs. They have a very good team, plain and simple. They’ve got starters from a very decent Point high school team that are sitting the bench because that team draws from a larger area and they’ve got guys back that played college ball for a year that are young enough.”
Merrill trailed 12-1 in the sixth inning when Cordova doubled and scored on Detert’s single. Post 46 scored three in the seventh after Golisch single, Koppelman walked, Zach Jahnke and Tim Jahnke hit RBI singles, Kubichek walked and Cordova hit a sac fly.
“We came back a little bit at the end, which is nice,” Klug said. “Some guys got some at-bats that hadn’t seen a lot of varsity pitching, and they were able to put runs on the board.”
Cordova (2-2, 3B, 2B) paced Merrill to seven hits.
Burkam (9 H, 2 W, 1 K, 12 R, 5 ER in 3 I) took the loss, and T. Jahnke (4 H, 1 W, 5 K, 2 R, 2 ER in 4 I) relieved.