The Merrill boys dropped five straight before putting an end to the suffering with Thursday’s 13-5 pounding of Lakeland. The Jays grabbed a 3-0 lead, watched the T-Birds rally with four in the third, but rebounded with 4 in the 4th, 3 in the 5th and 2 in the 6th.
The Merrill boys had dropped their fifth straight in Tomahawk on Tuesday, falling 3-1, after getting edged twice by one run by Green Bay East/West Red Devils on Saturday’s double-header.
Game one looked bleak for the guys early on as they trailed by seven runs. Then as the sixth inning opened, the Merrill bats came alive with a vengeance.
Keenan Stellingworth’s centerfield double brought Trey Stevenson home for the first Merrill score of the day. Tyler Belfori quickly followed suit along with Stellingworth to bring the Jays within striking distance (4-7).
After keeping the Devils at bay, the Jays brought the heat once again at the top of the seventh as Drew Hoff and Dylan Anderson crossed the plate to narrow the Green Bay lead to a single point. Unfortunately, the guys would be unable to capitalize in the bottom of the inning; falling short 6-7.
Stevenson (3/4, R, RBI, 2B), Stellingworth (1/3, R, 2B, RBI) and Hoff (2/4, R) led the Merrill offensive effort. Justin Pyan enjoyed a solid performance from the mound (9 H,1 K, 3 ER in 6 I) Game two would prove very similar with the Jays trailing much of the game early. Stevenson, and Ryan Golisch put Merrill on the board in the fifth only to have the Devils come back with four runs in the top of the seventh.
The Jays returned fire with four runs of their own from Stevenson, Stellingworth, Dylan Anderson and Jared Schmeltzer to tie it up at 7-7 and send the contest into extra innings.
Once again, the Bluejay bats would fall quiet in the clutch; falling 7-8 to the Red Devils.
Hoff (2/4, R, 2B) Golisch (1/3, R, RBI) and Pyan (1/4, 2 RBI, 2 2B) led the offensive charge for Merrill, while Golisch (3 H, 3 K, 1 ER in 3 I), Belfiori (1 H,1 K) and Collin Grefe (6 H, 1 K, 3 ER in 2 I) split time at the mound.
“We played good enough,” comments head coach Brian Artac,
“Just not to win.”
“When you lose a one-run game, you always look back and ask, ‘What could I have done different? What if I had done this or hadn’t done that?’ It comes down to making plays.”
“We just made too many mistakes. We had four errors in each game, and it’s tough to win when you have that many mistakes. The bright side is it’s early in the season yet, so we can work on it.”
The Oshkosh West Wildcats weren’t much more receptive than the Devils last Tuesday; dunking the Jays 10-2.
Dylan Anderson and Keenan Stellingworth scored the only runs for the Jays. Grefe (5 H, 3 K, 2 ER in 4 I) and Collins (4 H, 3 K, 4 ER in 2 I) split time at the mound, combining for 116 pitches, 71 strikes and 6 strikeouts.
“West has one heck of a pitcher (in Jake Guenther),” Artac adds.
“He has been their MVP the last few seasons and he will be again this year.”
Mason Reinhardt gave Merrill a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth when he scored on a Justin Pyan single. But Tomahawk secured the win with three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Adam Messerschmidt (1-2), Pyan (1-3) and Reinhardt (1-4) came up with Merrill’s hits.
Seth Collins (2 H, 2 W, 5 K, 2 R, 2 ER in 5 I) started and Drew Hoff (2 H, 1 R, 1 K, 1 ER in 1 I) relieved.