The Merrill Rangers entered last Wednesday’s regular-season finale – a non-conference match-up with Everest – with a WBA playoff berth assured. But no one wants to limp into the playoffs, so the Rangers had to be pleased when they rebounded from a 5-1 deficit for an 8-6 triumph at Athletic Park.
The Rangers drew first blood right away in the first as David Pophal brought in the first score of the game.
The Merrill bats would soon fall silent and the Merchants would take off on a five-run stretch over the second and third innings.
The Rangers found their stride mid-way through the sixth as Dylan Schielke plated followed by Troy Pieper to draw within two of Everest. The Merchants responded with a run at the top of the seventh to jump up 6-3.
Facing ‘now-or-never’ circumstances was anything but new to the Rangers this season and they wasted no time in going to work.
Chase Nelson rolled in the artillery early in the seventh when he blasted a 3-run homer, scoring Pophal and Schielke. Caleb Danner followed up with a pair of scores to claim the game for the Rangers.
“This was a good come-from-behind win for us,” Rangers manager Shawn Schultz said. “Got down 5-1. Chase’s three-run homer in the seventh was huge for us. We did a good job getting guys on base and he brought ‘em home.”
EST: 000 230 1-6
MRL: 100 002 5-8
WP: Chase Nelson (5H, 2R, 2K, BB, 2 ER in 4IP). Hitting: Nelson (2/5, R, 4RBI); Caleb Danner (1/2, 2R); Garrett Pagel (1/2, 2B, BB, RBI).
The Rangers (8-4) will kick off post-season action on Saturday when they head to Haugen to play Osseo. Game time is set for 10 a.m.