Varsity nine earns double header split at Antigo
By Andre Galella
The Merrill varsity baseball team traveled to Antigo on Saturday for a double header against Ashland and host Antigo.
Merrill won the opener 12-6 over Ashland. After giving up two runs in the top of the first, The Merrill offense was sparked by lead off man Kobe Blake’s single to left, Dan Duginski and Tyler Belfiori walked and Adam Detert hit a sac fly to drive in the Jays’ first run. Cole Meyer then hit a bullet to left that found the gap for a double, driving in Duginski. Belfiori scored on a RBI ground out by Anderson and the Jays had a 3-2 lead. Ashland took a 4-3 lead in the top of the second.
Merrill’s defense turned it up a notch in the third inning, with second baseman Blake taking matters into his own hands. After a leadoff single by Ashland, catcher Duginski threw a bullet to Blake, who made a nice pick and tag, to nab a runner trying to steal. After another single, Blake ranged into center to catch a popup in the wind and realized the runner had not tagged and made a perfect throw to Detert to double off the runner.
Merrill’s offense tied the game in the third as Belfiori walked again, and Detert drove in his second run of the game to tie the game at 4. In the top of the fifth with two outs and two on, the Merrill defense broke down again committing their third error of the game, allowing two more runs to score.
The Jays reclaimed the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth, exploding for six runs. Blake led off with a single, that he turned into a double with a little hustle. Belfiori reached base for the third time with a single to left, putting runners at first and third. Coach Shawn Schultz sent both runners on a successful double steal, with Blake scoring the first run of the inning. Detert then hit a laser to right for a double, to drive in Belfiori, his third RBI of the day. Meyer followed with a grounder that Ashland booted to put two guys on and Anderson hit a single to drive in Detert, to give the Jays a lead they would not relinquish. Bonnell singled to chase home Meyer, and Ryan Golisch pinch hit to drive in Anderson. That brought up the top of the order, and Blake delivered again with a towering double to left to drive in Bonnell for Merrill’s sixth run of the inning, taking a 10-6 lead.
Bonnell and Brant Raleigh would add RBI singles in the sixth to close out the scoring. Golisch relieved winning pitcher Belfiori in the sixth and pitched two perfect innings to close it out. Belfiori pitched five innings allowing only two earned runs while getting on three times and scoring each time. Blake had three hits and scored three times. Detert had two hits and three RBIs to lead the Merrill offense.
Asked about the terrific defensive inning he put together, Blake said, “Duginski made a great, quick throw to nail the runner at second and Detert made a great stretch on a close play at first to double off the runner on first.”
In the nightcap Merrill faced off against familiar foe Antigo. The Jays started out fast with Blake’s leadoff double to left. After two quick outs, Detert was hit by a pitch which brought up Nick Bowe for his first at bat of the year. He promptly singled to bring in Blake and Merrill was rolling again. Meyer hit a RBI single to bring in Detert, and Bonnell followed with a single of his own to knock in Meyer and Bowe in their four-run first.
Sophomore Vinnie Galella started on the mound for the Jays. Galella walked the lead off batter and after two hits and two more Merrill errors, the game was tied at 4-4. In the top of the second, Duginski led off with a single and Blake followed with a walk. Belfiori then hit a rocket single to drive in Duginski. Coach Schultz started the runners again as Blake scored on the double steal, giving Merrill a 6-4 lead. Galella settled down, giving up one hit over the next three innings, keeping the Red Robins off balance with a variety of off speed stuff. In the top of the third, Bowe and Meyer both reached base and were doubled home by Duginski to increase the Jays’ lead to 8-4. The Jays added another run in the top of the fourth to take a commanding 9-4 lead.
Merrill opened the bottom of the fifth with yet another error, their third of the game. Antigo had three seeing eye base hits in the inning, and with Galella tiring and walking in a run, Coach Schultz gave him the hook. Zach Anderson relieved and got out of the jam, but not before giving up a two-run single, to make the score 9-8.
The Merrill bats went quiet the rest of the game and in the bottom of the sixth the Antigo squad put together a two-run rally, fueled by Merrill’s fourth error of the game and took a 10-9 lead, which would hold up for the win. Galella pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing 6 hits and only 2 earned runs with 4 strikeouts and 3 walks.
The Merrill offense was led by Duginski with two hits and two RBI, Bowe with two singles, Bonnell with two RBI and Blake two runs scored. Merrill played the doubleheader with most of their seniors not in attendance due to college placement testing, having only nine players dressed for their opening win. The juniors and sophomores showed well with their hitting and pitching, with the defense still a little behind in the young season. Merrill plays an away and home series with DCE Tuesday and Thursday and then travels to Oconomowoc Saturday for a double dip.
Hodags crash home opener
By Jeremy Ratliff
Thursday afternoon, the 2017 Bluejay baseball squad made their season debut at historic Athletic Park in a non-conference duel with Rhinelander.
Following a scoreless two innings, the Hodags landed on the board with a pair of runs and followed up with a four-run blow in the fourth to take a 6-0 lead.
The Jays would find an answer in the bottom of the fourth when Kobe Blake ripped a line drive to left field and brought in Dan Duginksi and Zach Anderson for a pair of scores.
Unfortunately, the Bluejay bats would fall quiet from there as the Hodags went on to pile up seven more runs en route to a 13-2 final.
“Kobe had a big hit to drive in the two runs which was good to see,” comments head coach Shawn Schultz. “We didn’t strike out a bunch and just couldn’t get the bats going to stop them.”
Pitcher Brett Seubert (6H, 6R, 2 SO) took the loss for Merrill while splitting time at the mound with Chase Bonnell (4H, 4R, 2SO); Ty Belfiori (3H, 3R) and Ryan Golisch (2SO).
Batting: Blake (2 RBI, TB); Trey Seubert (2B, 2TB)
RDR: 0 0 2 4 3 4 X-13
MRL: 0 0 0 2 0 0 X-2