Merrill Varsity Bluejays shutout Northland Pines, Hayward, and Abby/Colby

Team is headed to Sectionals!

Left fielder Brady Norton drives in two runs with a double on this pitch. Rick Argall photo.


The Merrill Varsity Bluejays Baseball Team (11-12) hosted Northland Pines (11-14) in the first round of the WIAA State Baseball Regional Tournament on Friday, May 24, 2024, at Athletic Park in Merrill. Behind strong pitching from Brady Kanitz (7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 14 SO) and stellar defense, the Bluejays dominated the game and advanced in the Tournament with a 9-0 victory.
“On Thursday, we started playoff action with a rematch against Northland Pines. We beat them earlier in the year 4 – 2 and on Thursday it was an even more convincing performance,” said Head Coach Shawn Schultz.
“It was an excellent win for us, the boys were great, and it is a perfect day for them finishing the school year,” said Schultz. “It was big for the six Seniors to come out and win 9-0 against a good team like Northland Pines. A huge day for all of the guys, but especially Brady with his big home run and 14 strikeouts on the mound. There are not too many days like that for a player,” Schultz said.
Merrill jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the second inning after Ben Thom (1-3, 1 RBI, 1 2B, 1 R) doubled and Brady Norton (1-4, 2 R, 3 RBI) doubled, scoring two runs; Isaak Clapper (2-4, 1 RBI, 1 R) added a single; and Merrill built their lead to 4-0 after two innings. The Merrill Varsity Bluejays would add one more run in the bottom of the third inning and four big runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to break the game open.
Pitcher Brady Kanitz earned the win for Merrill as the team totaled 9 runs, on 10 total hits and only committed 1 error. “Brady Kanitz was spectacular on the mound, giving up no runs and only 2 hits while striking out 14,” Schultz said. “A very dominating performance.”
“On offense, we put up four in the second inning and never looked back,” he said. “Ben Thom had a big double to drive in the first run and then after a walk, Brady Norton had another double to drive in two more and Isaak scored Norton with a single to right.”
“Kanitz got us another run in the fifth with a line drive homerun to right. The defense was solid as well – just a total team effort,” Schultz said.
The Northland Pines Varsity Eagles finished the game with zero runs, on two hits and committed four errors. The Varsity Bluejays were led by Isaak Clapper, Sam Reimann, and Brady Kanitz, all with two hits each.
This win advanced the Merrill Varsity Bluejays to the second round of the WIAA State Boys Baseball Tournament in Hayward.

Box Score:
Northland Pines 0 @ Merrill 9

On Tuesday, May 28, the Merrill Varsity Bluejays headed to Hayward to take on the Hayward Hurricanes in the second round of the Regional State Tournament and took home another exciting win, blowing the Hurricanes away with a 5-1 victory. “We played well last night,” Schultz said.
Two runs in the first and three runs in the second inning gave Merrill the lead, and Hayward remained scoreless until they scored a single run in the game in the fifth inning.
“Brady Kanitz pitched great into the fifth and Isaak Clapper relieved and pitched great,” Schultz said. “Big homeruns from Sam Reimann and Cooper Wendorf helped put us up 5-0, and our pitching and defense carried us the rest of the way.”

Box Score:
Merrill 5 @ Hayward 1

The Hayward win put the Merrill Boys into the next round of play, and they faced off against Abby/Colby Varsity Boys on Wednesday, May 29, in Abbotsford for the Regional Final. Merrill went into the game as the #7 seed and Abby/Colby was the #3 seed. The Bluejays secured another win and are now on their way to Baldwin as of this writing Tuesday morning.
“EJ Weix battled through 4 2/3 innings keeping us up 6-4 when he came out,” Coach Schultz said. “Dawson Schulz got us out of the fifth and got two big outs in the sixth. Isaak Clapper came in and finished the sixth by getting their three-hitter out on a fly ball to Carter Baade.”
“Isaak finished the seventh with a groundout to him that he threw to first to finish it off,” he said.
“Brady Norton, Kaiden Henrich, and Kory Page all had RBI hits to get us out to the 6 -1 lead,” Schultz said. “Abby/Colby battled back to get to 6-4, but we were able to hold them down. … A great team win.”

Box Score:
Merrill 6 @ Abby/Colby 4

Merrill was set to compete against Medford at 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 4, in the Sectional at Baldwin Woodville High School. Go Bluejays!

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