Merrill, Tomahawk finally square off in Legion ball
The American Legion Post 46 baseball team put together one of its best weeks of the season last week, bouncing back from an extra-innings loss to Stevens Point on Tuesday with victories over quality teams Marshfield and Tomahawk on Wednesday and Friday.
The timing was impeccable with the American Legion regionals to start later this week for both Lincoln County teams. Merrill will host, while Tomahawk Post 93 will play in Nekoosa.
Tomahawk also posted a competitive week, improving to 18-3 overall by knocking off Mosinee and Antigo before playing Merrill tough.
Both teams did all their damage in the first three innings of Friday’s Lincoln County face-off. Merrill grabbed a 2-0 with solo runs in the first two innings, before bumping it to 4-1 in the third. Tomahawk got one back in the bottom of the 3rd, but Post 46 held on to win 4-2.
“That was a solid game,” Merrill manager John Annis said. “(Brian) Stockowitz pitched really well. We played solid defense again. We’re definitely starting to limit the free bases we’re giving teams.”
The Cubs had current and future goals in mind with this game.
“Overall, it was a decent game but it is never fun to lose,” Tomahawk manager Wes Roessler said. “We came into this game planning on pitching at least four guys to keep them sharp for the regionals next week. All four guys pitched well and had some positives on the night.
“We had some opportunities to win this game, but we couldn’t come up with a clutch hit or two. Our bats were inconsistent this game and we couldn’t string the hits together to produce a big inning.”
Both teams put runners on base in the 4th and 6th innings without bringing anyone home.
Alex Cordova doubled to lead off the game, moved up on a ground ball and scored on Alex Klug’s ground out. Tom Zuelsdorff singled to start the second, advanced on a fielder’s choice and scored on Coleton Bloch’s hit.
The Cubs cut the lead in half with a lead-off triple from Jon Nyberg and Fletcher Schoone’s RBI ground out.
The Merrill third was fueled by no-out singles from Cordova and Ty Grunenwald, a passed ball and a Ben Anderson RBI sac fly and Zuelsdorff’s run-scoring single.
Isaac Schoone singled, moved up on ground balls and scored on a wild pitch in bottom of the frame. Tomahawk loaded the bases in the 4th when Aaron Leonhard and Aaron Schoone singled and Kevin Bolder was hit by a pitch, but Stockowitz induced a ground ball to end the inning.
Cordova (2-4, 2B, 2 R) and Zuelsdorff (2-4) led Merrill to 8 hits. Leonhard (2-2) and Aaron Schoone (2-3) paced Post 93 to 7 hits.
“Cordova is seeing the ball really well,” Annis said. “It was good to see Tom Zuelsdorff get his confidence level up.”
Stockowitz (7 H, 2 HBP, 6 K, 2 R, 2 ER in 7 I) picked up the win. Jared Jarvensivu (3 H, 2 K, 2 R, 2 ER in 2 I) took the loss, and F. Schoone (5 H, 2 K, 2 R, 2 ER in 2 I), Kevin Bolder (0 H, 4 K, 0 R) and Lorne Ahrens (0 H, 2 W, 1 K in 1 I) relieved.
Holding the line
Merrill jumped out to a 5-2 lead in Wednesday’s contest before making it exciting on the way to a 6-5 win.
“Alex pitched a great game,” Annis said. “If we make a play here or there, it’s not such a close game.
“We got some clutch hitting, which was different for us. We got 3-of-4 bunts down successfully. It’s nice with regional coming up that we’re doing the little things.”
Post 46 scored one in the 1st when Grunenwald and Klug walked, moved up on a passed ball and an error on the catcher. Klug walked and Anderson singled in the 3rd before a Zuelsdorff sac bunt, and a two-run error on a Ben Hintze grounder made it 3-1. Walks to Cole Gustke and Cordova set up a Grunenwald sac bunt and Klug two-run single in the 4th.
After Marshfield pulled within 5-3 in the 6th, Merrill threatened to bust it open in the bottom of the inning. Cordova ripped a lead-off double and scored on a error, and Anderson was hit by a pitch and Dakota Ress walked to load the bases with one out. But an infield fly and strikeout ended the rally.
The visitors cut it to 6-5 in the 7th with a two-run homer after a hit batter, but reliever Cordova struck out the next batter and forced a ground out to end it.
Klug (5 H, 1 W, 3 R, 3 ER in 6 I) won and Cordova (1 H, 1 K, 2 R, 2 ER in 1 I) collected a save.
Cordova (3-3, 2-2B, 2 R), Anderson (2-3) and Klug (1-2, 2 RBI) had all of Merrill’s hits.
Tomahawk put an early hit on Antigo last Tuesday, notching four runs in the 2nd, three in the 4th and three in the 6th to take a 10-0 lead. Antigo scored twice in the bottom of the inning to reach the 10-2 final.
“This was a solid game in all aspects for our team tonight,” Roessler said. “We had great pitching, solid defense and our bats were solid up and down the lineup. The guys faced some solid pitchers tonight and were able to put together some great at-bats.
“Jon pitched a very good game. He was able to shut down some very good hitters in the Antigo lineup. Lorne had a big day at the plate. His home run was one of the hardest hit balls I have seen all year.”
Post 93 pounded out 14 hits, led by Ahrens (2-3, 2B, HR, 4 RBI), Fletcher Schoone (2-4, 2B), Aaron Schoone (2-2), Jordan Roessler (2-5, 2 RBI), Bolder (2-4, 2 RBI) and Jacob Sabielny (1-2, 2B).
Nyberg (7 H, 0 W, 2 K, 2 R, 1 ER in 7 I) took the win.
A late Point
It was a true pitching duel when Post 46 lost 3-2 at Stevens Point on Tuesday. Neither team could score until the scheduled last inning, the 7th. Anderson singled and got to second on a throwing error, moved up on a Bloch bunt and scored on a passed ball. But Point sent it to extra innings with back-to-back doubles.
Cordova gave Merrill another lead with a two-out homer in the 10th, before Point put it away with a double, walk, error, and two singles.
“The kids played really well,” Annis said. “Coleton pitched great and the defense played solid. We had one error and we didn’t let the error affect us. We regrouped, which was good to see. Unfortunately we did strike out 21 times, but their pitcher (Logan Mallek) had a really good game, too, and pitched nine innings. He was really good last year in the Valley and I believe he pitched in college this year.”
Bloch (2 H, 2 W, 6 K, 1 R, 1 ER in 7 I) had a no-hitter going through 6-1/3 innings. Stockowitz (3 H, 4 W, 0 K, 2 R, 1 ER in 2-1/3 I) took the loss.
Cordova (2-5, HR), Anderson (2-3) managed all the Post 46 hits. Three Merrill batters walked.
Merrill is now 5-12 on the season. Post 46 will host the AA regional Fri.-Sun., July 26-28, with Merrill, Antigo, Rhinelander, and Minocqua vying for a state berth.
Post 93 explosion
Post 93 knocked Medford out in six innings last Monday with an 11-1 triumph, but it was a 1-1 road game through four frames.
“This was a nice bounce back win from our loss to Arcadia (the previous Saturday),” Roessler said. “The bats came to life and we came up with some big hits in clutch situations.
“Fletcher pitched a solid game. He never let the Medford hitters get anything started. The most batters he faced in any inning was six. We had some nice defensive plays to help the cause.”
A seven-run 5th made most of difference, and Tomahawk tacked on three in the 6th to kick the 10-run rule into effect.
Jarvensivu (3-5, 2 RBI, 2 SB), Ahrens (2-2, 3B, 3 R), Trevor Iwen (2-4, 3B) and Bolder (1-3, 3B, 2 RBI) led Post 93 to 12 hits and 6 walks.
Fletcher Schoone (3 H, 2 W, 6 K, 1 R, 1 ER in 6 I) pitched the win.