By Nick Beversdorf
Numerous weather-related delays, cancellations and postponements pushed back the start of Bluejay varsity baseball to this past Friday with a double header against Antigo and a double header against Oconomowoc the day after. All four games resulted in Bluejay losses which set the season record to 0-4.
The first two games against Antigo both resulted in large-deficit defeats. Antigo started off strong with 2 runs in the 1st inning and 2 more in the 3rd. It was during the 5th inning that Antigo piled on 12 more runs and solidified their lead. Merrill would score two runs, one from a RBI from Ryan Golisch and a ground ball from Jared Schmeltzer to close the deficit slightly, but it wasn’t enough to help. The final score was 16-2 with Merrill mustering 5 hits and 2 errors.
During the second game, Antigo played a similar tune with 2 runs in the 1st inning, one from a sacrifice fly. Antigo would pile 7 more runs in the 2nd before Merrill would get a chance to score. Merrill was able to score 2 runs, both from walks, in the 2nd inning. Antigo would get another 2 runs in the 3rd while Merrill would only get one off a line drive hit. Antigo got another run in the 5th while Merrill wouldn’t see any more runs until their last-inning rally in the 6th, when Dylan Anderson would score a run off of Drew Hoff’s fly ball. Hoff would later score off of Troy Pike’s fly ball. The final score was 15-5 with Merrill getting 8 hits and 4 errors.
“Collin pitched pretty well through the first four innings in Game 1 on Friday,“ comments head coach Shawn Schultz. “Antigo has scored a lot of runs against everyone they played. We were down 4 – 0 after four innings, so we were in the game at that point. We sent Collin out for 1 more inning than we wanted because he was pitching well and we had a lot of innings left to pitch during the weekend. After that, we struggled to get ahead of hitters and put them away when we did get ahead in the count.”
The first game against Oconomowoc saw a much closer score. An early lead by Oconomowoc in the 1st was turned into a tie when Tyler Belfiori hit a line drive to right field which allowed Christian Halbach and Collin Grefe to score. However, once Oconomowoc stepped back up to bat they managed 3 runs with a player hit by pitch, a ground ball and a walk. They would score one more run off a hard ground ball. Merrill would manage one more run with Golisch scoring off a Halbach sacrifice fly, but it wouldn’t be enough to win the game. The final score was 6-3 with Merrill getting 4 hits and 3 errors.
The second game would see a much larger amount of runs by Oconomowoc with 10 of them being made in the 2nd inning alone. Merrill started off strong with a 2-0 lead in the first, courtesy of a Schmeltzer sacrifice fly and a Kyle Juhlke hit by pitch which allowed Trevor Asmundsen and Drew Hoff to score runs, respectively. Oconomowoc would score 2 runs in the 1st and later score 10 more in the 2nd, 5 in the 3rd, and 2 in the 4th to bring their total to 19 runs.
The Bluejays would manage 1 more run in the 5th with a Schmeltzer ground ball to short, allowing Drew Hoff to score. The final score was 19-3 with just 1 hit and 3 errors.
“The first game against Oconomowoc, we did some good things but we had a couple mistakes that cost us,” adds Schultz. “Ryan battled through the first three innings and Jared came in the middle of the fourth and shut them down. He was aggressively throwing strikes and getting ahead of the hitters which made a huge difference. We had a chance with two on and two out in the top of the 7th and Drew hit the ball hard but right at the the center-fielder to end the game.”
“Offensively, we struggled to hit the ball consistently all weekend. We did walk 24 times in the four games so we were getting guys on base. We just could not get the key hit to capitalize on the other teams’ mistakes. When our pitchers made mistakes, Antigo and Oconomowoc both took advantage with big hits when they got runners on base.”
“It was not the way that you want to start the season but it certainly lets us know what we have to improve.”
Bluejay varsity baseball will have their next game this Thursday, April 21st at 4:30 p.m. at DC Everest.