Bluejay baseball triumphs two more times to get Valley ready

The Bluejays baseball team ran its record to 3-1 last week with a pair of non-conference victories, although they held decidedly different impressions of the contests.
The feeling was all rosy inside after Tim Jahnke fired a no-hitter and received timely support in Tuesday’s 10-0 triumph. But the Jays weren’t nearly as happy with Thursday’s contest after approaching double-digit errors in an 11-5 win.
Still, the team got in some necessary work to prepare for the upcoming Valley gauntlet of state-ranked teams from SPASH, Marshfield and Wausau West.
“Having four warm-up games was pretty nice,” MHS coach Brian Artac said. “Most years we don’t get them all in.”
Jahnke did allow five walks, but he struck out nine, and put up goose eggs for hits and runs.
“That’s the best he’s thrown,” Artac said. “He had a curve that he threw 2-3 different speeds. That made his fastball seem that much faster. He controlled most of the game once he got through the first inning. They had the bases packed but he didn’t give up a run.”
The Jays got an RBI single from Alex Ruge in the first and made it 4-0 by the third with help from unearned runs. An RBI walk from Alex Klug and run-scoring sac fly from Ty Grunenwald pushed it to 6-0 in the fourth. Ray Paul singled a run home in the sixth, and Zach Jahnke ripped a base-loaded double to left center to end the game.
Merrill finished with 11 hits and seven walks. Paul (3-4, 2B) and Ruge (2-2) paced the hitting.
Folding paper
The Bluejays counted on Nekoosa help and a big dual contribution from Kevin Bolder in Thursday’s 11-5 victory.
Bolder collected the win on the mound and made it easy on himself by pounding out six RBI’s, the bulk on a first-inning grand slam home run.
“Bolder had quite a game-3-4 with a grand slam,” Artac said. “He drove in six runs. For a lot of guys, that’s a season. He also pitched pretty well for four innings. Then I brought in Ray, who got no support because I unloaded the bench after the third inning.”
Merrill actually was shakier on defense than the Papermakers, committing eight errors to five for the visitors, but there’s no question whose hurt more. Nekoosa booted three in an eight-run first inning for the Bluejays.
The 8-0 lead held up through the fourth, when Nekoosa cut it to 8-3. An unearned run made it 9-3 and Bolder’s two-run single in the sixth pushed it to 11-4.
Merrill finished with seven hits, three from Bolder. Paul stole two bases.
Bolder (1 H, 1 W, 7 K, 0 R in 4 I) collected the win, and Paul (3 H, 1 W, 1 K, 4 R, 1 ER in 2 I) and David Pophal (0 H, 3 W, 2 K, 1 ER in 1 I) relieved.

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