Majors All-Stars third
The Merrill 12U Little League All-Stars worked within a run of the championship series in last week’s District 5 Tournament in Wausau.
Merrill crushed Rhinelander 19-9 on Tuesday to reach the loser’s bracket final, but was eliminated in a thrilling 9-8 game with Wausau National the next day. Merrill’s 2-1 start – detailed in the July 10 issue of the Foto News – included an opening 4-0 loss to Antigo, followed by 12-0 and 25-1 respective blow-outs of Roche A Cri and Northwoods.
“For the tournament as a whole, we hit the ball unbelievably to score that many runs,” Merrill manager Chad Meyer said. “Antigo was the only team to shut us out, and I think that was little jitters from the first game in their hometown.”
After beating Merrill, National needed to take a pair from winners’ bracket finalist Antigo, but Antigo grabbed a 9-1 triumph on Thursday to qualify for state.
The boys fell behind Wausau 6-1 by the 2nd inning, and 9-1 by the 4th, but they kept battling. They pulled within 9-5 in the 5th with hits from Jayden Beyer and Quinn Steckbauer and four walks.
Steckbauer doubled ahead of Chase Bonnell’s home run in the 6th. Kole Meyer walked and scored on a Hunter Hintze two-out double to cut it to 9-8, but Hintze stranded on second.
Merrill came up with 9 hits and 7 walks in the loss. Steckbauer and Hintze both batted 2-3.
Merrill used a platoon system of pitchers for both contests, including Vinnie Gallela, Anderson, Bonnell, Steckbauer and Will Soderberg. Renken threw in the first game.
“We used 5-6 boys a game, basically the whole stable, because we were trying to save pitching for the championship games,” Meyer said.
Wausau finished with 8 hits, 4 walks and 6 strikeouts.
“Their #3 hitter, Nick Adrian, had a career night,” Meyer said. “He was 1-for-11 in the district tournament, but the first three times he stepped up to the plate, against three different pitchers he hit them out. The first was a belt-high fastball, but the second he golfed out a pitch at his ankles and the third was at least even with his head and tomahawked it out. He had seven or eight of their RBIs.”
Kordell Renken was unable to play due to injury.
Merrill had the range in the previous game, blasting five home runs among 17 hits.
“Ten out of 12 kids had hits,” Meyer said. “We were still a hitting machine.”
Merrill trailed 3-1 after the 1st, but incredibly batted 2-1/3 times through the order in a 14-run 2nd. Kobe Blake led off with a homer, Kordell Renken and Meyer hit back-to-backers mid-inning, and Riley Anderson did it with five batters to go. A line drive ended the rally.
Bonnell hit the final blast in a two-run 3rd.
Merrill pushed it to 19-3 in the 4th before Rhinelander scored six late ones.
Meyer (3-4, HR), Beyer (3-4, 3 R), Bonnell (2-3, 2 B, HR, 2 W, 4 R), Anderson (2-3, HR), Renken (2-3, HR), Blake (1-1, HR, 2 W) led the hitting.