Merrill Rangers rally to defeat Westboro

The Merrill Rangers struggled in Friday’s 5-0 road loss to Rib Lake, and fell behind Westboro by that tally in just the first inning of Sunday’s home game, threatening to drop a pair of Dairyland games.
But the Rangers rallied to take down a 15-11 triumph.
“We started out rough and didn’t play well behind our starting pitcher with four errors in the first inning,” Merrill manager John Annis said. “But we brought it back. (Alex) Grunenwald dropped a three-run bomb. That was huge.
“It’s good to know we can come back. We don’t get down on ourselves. There were some key at-bats in that big eight-run inning.”
Merrill chopped it to 5-3 in the bottom of the first on an Alex Grunenwald three-run blast, hung within 7-5 with two in the fourth, then took 13-9 charge with an 8-run fifth. The Rangers bumped it to 15-9 by the eighth, then gave up two harmless runs in the ninth.
Grunenwald’s one-out solo homer kicked off the fifth. An RBI single by Chase Nelson and walks to Brad Kanitz and John Annis all pushed runs across to set up Adam Cordova’s three-run triple to the right-field fence. Grunenwald walked and initiated a double steal with Cordova for the final run.
Nelson crushed a solo homer to left in the seventh, and Rothmeyer singled, advanced on a Jordan Annis hit and scored when a shallow fly was misjudged.
Jordan Annis started, Grunenwald provided several strong innings and John Annis closed it out.
Nelson (3-3, HR, 2B, 2 RBI), Grunenwald (2-3, 2-HR, 4 RBI), Cordova (2-5, 3B, 3 RBI) and Rothmeyer (2-4) helped Merrill reach 11 hits.
Dig in the ribs
Rib Lake scored unearned runs in the first and fourth innings, knocked out a pair of earned runs in the sixth, and kicked it to 5-0 in the eighth.
“We had a strong pitching performance out of Chase Nelson, but had a few costly errors and only four hits,” Annis said. “It’s hard to win a ballgame with five hits and three or four errors.
“But we were in the game for the most part. A couple of different bounces and it could have turned into a 3-2 win in our favor.”
Cordova hit 2-3, but was thrown out at the plate trying to score after his teammate was picked off second. J. Annis, Dan Stefansky and Nelson had the other hits.
Nelson (11 H, 0 W, 4 K, 5 R, 3 ER in 8 I) took the loss.

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