Merrill rallies over Red Raiders

The Bluejay baseball team stumbled in a pair of Valley games last week, but fared better out of conference. They worked a split with Rhinelander at Athletic Park on Friday, then pulled out an 8-inning triumph on Monday.
Merrill trailed 4-3 heading into the 7th inning at Medford on Monday, when Alex Cordova singled and stole his way to 3rd. Ray Paul hit him home to tie it up. In the 8th, Alex Ruge singled, and after David Pophal’s 2-out walk, Cordova completed a 5-5 day by driving in the winning run.
“We squandered opportunities,” MHS coach Brian Artac said. “We had a couple of things not go our way, and some of those we created. We had to battle to win again. We did play pretty good defense.”
Cordova was red-hot with two doubles and a triple. His 5-5 day pushed him over .500 for the season at .517. Paul went 2-4 with a triple. MHS had 10 hits.
Kevin Bolder (1 H, 0 W, 4 K, 0 R in 3-2/3 I) won in relief of Tim Jahnke (2 H, 1 W, 2 K, 2 R, 2 ER in 2 I) and Colton Bloch (1 H, 2 W, 3 K, 2 R, 0 ER in 2-1/3 I).
Split Hodag
Cordova hit 3-3 with a double and 3-run homer to help the Jays take a 6-5 win in the opener with Rhinelander.
“We should have won both games,” Artac said. “It would have been real nice to get the sweep. You fight so hard and don’t get it. We’ve definitely faced some adversity this season.”
Trevor Jahnke hit an RBI double in the 6th for a 5-4 lead. The Hodags tied it in the 7th, but Paul ripped a walk-off single in the bottom of the frame after Marcus Reinhardt singled, Pophal moved him over, and Cordova walked.
Cordova (3-3, 2B, HR, 2 W, 3 RBI, 2 R), Ben Anderson (3-3), and Reinhardt (2-3) helped Merrill reach 10 hits.
Cordova (2 H, 1 W, 3 K, 1 R, 1 ER in 3 I) won in relief of Paul (7 H, 3 W, 2 K, 4 R, 1 ER in 4 I).
The Jays trailed 5-2 in the 2nd game, but cut it to 5-4 with 2 in the 5th with help from a Ty Grunenwald double, a Paul single, a double steal and Anderson RBI hit. Tr. Jahnke doubled, but Anderson was cut down at the plate.Then Alex Klug knotted it up with a solo shot in the 6th.
RHS pulled it out with help from a lead-off double.
Paul (2-4, 2 RBI), Cordova (2-4, 3 SB), Anderson (2-4), Gruenewald (2B), T. Jahnke (2B) helped Merrill to 11 hits.
Brian Stockowitz (1 H, 1 W, 1 K, 1 R, 1 ER in 2 I) lost after relieving Popahl (1 H, 5 W, 1 K, 3 R, 3 ER in 2 I) and Bloch (2 H, 1 W, 0 K, 2 R, 0 ER in 3 I).
Valley futility
The Jays fell 11-1 to Wausau West on Tuesday and 12-2 at Wis. Rapids on Friday.
“You’re going to take poundings if you don’t throw strikes and we didn’t throw strikes,” Artac said. “Rapids we walked 10 batters and hit a batter. West we just had no life from the get-go. I don’t understand it.”
A 2-run homer for Cordova was the lone bright spot in Friday’s rout, as the Jays were 3-hit. Tim Jahnke (4 H, 6 W, 1 K, 8 R, 4 ER in 2 I) lost and Bolder (3 H, 4 W, 3 K, 6 R, 5 ER in 2 I) came on.
Reinhardt walked and scored on a 5th-inning error to save a shut-out against West. Grunenwald doubled, and Anderson had the other MHS hit.
Bolder (5 H, 3 W, 2 K, 9 R, 5 ER in 3 I) was saddled with the loss. Tr. Jahnke (3 H, 2 W, 1 K, 2 R, 1 ER in 2 I) entered in relief.
Merrill was 1-8 in the WVC, and 9-11 overall after Monday. Rapids was at 5-4 and 12-7, while West was 4-5 and 10-10.

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