A great week for Bluejay Boys Baseball
TINA L. SCOTT
“We had a great week,” said Merrill Bluejay Boys Basebal Head Coach Shawn Schultz. “We played our last two regular season games on Monday, June 7, and Tuesday, June 8.” Then on Thursday, June 10, it was off to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Regional Playoffs.
“We really turned things around this week. We had a rough stretch where other teams were taking advantage of the mistakes we made. This week we did just the opposite. We were taking advantage of errors and getting extra bases from their mistakes while we certainly limited ours,” Coach Schultz said. “Our pitchers did a great job throwing strikes all week with just 5 walks in the 27 innings pitched. Our bats really came alive with ton sof extra base hits. We worked hard all season to get ready for the playoffs and it really paid off this week!”
“We started the playoffs on Thursday with a road trip to Altoona for the 4 – 5 seed game,” Coach Schultz said. “What a game! We jumped out to a 4 – 0 early lead, and we were feeling pretty good with Zach Kriegel pitching well on the mound. Alex Mann had an RBI single in the first to get us started.”
“In the second, Nathan Brzoznowski started with a triple and scored on a wild pitch. A couple of hit by pitches and another triple, this time by Peyton Becker and we had a 4 – 0 lead.”
“But, Altoona would fight back,” Coach said. “They brought in their ace, and he was pretty tough. He kept us down and allowed them to get back to 4 – 4 after inning five.”
“Zach Kriegel battled in the heat and did a great job. Henry Reimann came in with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth and allowed just one run to score on a sac fly to the right fielder. It was a huge moment when he kept the game tied at that point,” he said. “It allowed us to come out in the sixth and take back the lead.”
“Brzoznowski just missed his second homerun of the season with a ball off the left center field fence to start the inning. Caleb DeJong came up with a huge base hit the opposite way to score Nathan and set things up for an opposite field bomb by Peyton Becker. We picked up run number eight in the top of the seventh with a couple of their mistakes and were feeling pretty good going to the bottom of the seventh with an 8 – 4 lead.”
“Then the game got interesting,” Coach said. “They had a couple of balls that found the holes and put the pressure on, and we were heading to the eighth tied 8 – 8. Caleb DeJong put us up 10 – 8 with a drive over the right field fence, and again we were feeling pretty good. But in the bottom, they had a couple of bloops fall in, and again were able to get back to even. Peyton did a great job getting out of the trouble with some strikeouts and using his defense behind him.”
“A scoreless 9th set the stage for the game winning hit in the 10th. Caleb Dejong led off the inning with a walk and advanced on a wild pitch, and Peyton came up with the RBI single to put us up again. This time it was enough. They did manage a two out single to come up with another opportunity, but we put them away with a little pop fly to Kriegel.”
“It was a great team effort with huge hits and some great defense,” he said. “Mason Johnson made a couple of plays at first that really saved us. Peyton and Caleb were on base all day. Just a great high school baseball game.”
High scorers of the game were Caleb DeJong (5R, 3H, 3RBI) with five runs and Nathan Brzoznowski (2R, 2H) and Isaac Sutton (2R) with two runs each. Zach Kriegel (.667) and Peyton Becker (.679) pitched four or more innings each, and Henry Reimann (.585) got in a little more than one inning on the mound, combining their efforts for a .651 strike percentage.
“We head to Medford on Tuesday and will advance to the Regional Final against the winner of Mosinee vs. Bloomer,” Coach said. “That will take place Wednesday if we keep winning.”
Merrill 11 @ Altoona 10
For the Tuesday, June 8, game against Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln, “We brought up a couple of guys to help us out and did they ever,” Coach Schultz said. “Brady Kanitz pitched when we were at Wausau East earlier in the season, and we brought him back for game one, and he delivered big time. He threw strikes and got ahead of the hitters, getting a lot of soft contact. He didn’t walk anybody and just did a great job.”
“We had a good day with the bats as well,” he said. “Michael McRae had a couple of hits and a big homerun. Isaac Sutton started the scoring with a three run blast off of their starter, who did a pretty good job to begin the game. The 3 – 0 lead held to the fifth when Rapids got one in each of the next two innings.” “Then the bottom of the sixth – we put nine on the board to end it.”
“Everybody did a great job of getting on base and delivering the big hits,” Coach said. “Nathan Brzoznowski played his first varsity game on Tuesday and could not have started any better, delivering a three run homer to get us to 12 – 2 and end the game.”
High hitters for the game included Nathan Brzoznowski (2R, 1H, 3RBI), Isaac Sutton (2R, 1H, 3RBI) and Michael McRae (2R, 2H, 2 RBI), who each crossed the plate twice to score for the Bluejays. Brady Kanitz delivered an awesome .650 strike percentage.
“We played well in all three phases on Tuesday. The only disappointment was not being able to finish the second game due to weather. It was 0 – 0 in the third when the weather came. We had started another newcomer on the mound, and Isaak Clapper did a great job. Two scoreless innings in his debut on the Varsity gives us something to really look forward to.”
Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln 2 @ Merrill 12
Monday’s game was against the Antigo Red Robins. “We played pretty well on Monday,” Coach Schultz said. “It was an extra inning game, something that would pay off later in the week. We worked hard in practice at getting our defense in order, and as the week went on, we did just that.”
“We built up an early lead, to 6 – 2 after three innings.”
“Zach pitched a couple of tune-up innings and threw the ball well. Peyton started the scoring with an RBI single in the first, and that would be the beginning of a huge week for him,” Coach said. “Sam Reimann chipped in a two run homer in the third to get us to six. Antigo fought back with a couple of homeruns as well.”
”They were up one in the top of the sixth, but Peyton drove in Isaac with another RBI single and got us back to even.”
“Ryder Depies pitched the middle innings for us and did a good job keeping us in the game,” Schultz said. “Peyton came in to throw the last four innings. He gave up just one and did a great job keeping the Antigo bats silent and allowing us the opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the ninth. Sam Reimann reached on miscue, and Zach Kriegel came up with the walkoff single to start a great week for us.”
Peyton Becker (2R, 4H, 2RBI), Sam Reimann (2R, 1H, 2RBI), and Isaac Sutton (2R) each scored two runs. Peyton Becker pitched four with a whopping .806, Zach Kriegel put in two innings on the mount with a .690, and Ryder Depies pitched three with a .597, averaging an awesome .672 strike percentage for the game between them.
Antigo 8 @ Merrill 9