By Jared Schmeltzer
Merrill Rangers stumbled early losing the first two games of the new season. In their first game of the year against Rib Lake on May seventh, the Rangers would fall 10-5 after a back and forth ball game.
After getting behind by two runs early, Merrill would even up the game in the third inning on the power of a two run blast over the fence by Alex Grunenwald. The Rangers would later find themselves down one run again in the sixth, however a line drive over the left field fence by Brad Kanitz would be good for two more runs and a Rangers lead. Rib Lake would charge back in the seventh inning scoring two runs and making the score 5-4 in their favor. The Rangers would reply in the bottom of the inning scoring one of their own to tie it up once again.
Two scoreless innings later this back and forth battle was sent into extra innings. In the top of the 10th inning the Rangers would fall apart allowing five runs. After stalling out with the bats in the bottom of the inning the game would end with a score of 10-5.
The top hitters for the Rangers include Grunenwald (2H, 2RBI, HR), and Kanitz (1H, 2RBI, HR). Shawn Schultz pitched seven innings, striking out four, walking two, and allowing five runs. Alex Grunenwald pitched the last three innings, striking out four, walking four, and allowing five runs.
D.C. Everest tops Rangers
On May 24th in the Rangers’ second game of the year they faced off against D.C. Everest. Merrill was only able to muster up two runs, but a good pitching performance kept them in the game until the end as they lost 5-2.
Merrill would get off to a good start in the top of the first inning as Trevor Asmundsen hit a double down the line, followed up by a single by Jared Schmeltzer to push him to third base where he would score on a sacrifice fly by Kyle McMullen. Everest was able to tie it up in the bottom of the second inning, but the Rangers would snatch the lead once again in the fourth. After an error and a stolen base left Drew Hoff at second base, Adam Messerschmidt was able to drive him in with a single to the outfield. Everest would even up the game in the bottom of the inning and go on to score three more runs in the sixth inning. The Merrill bats went cold at that point as they struck out for the last nine outs of the game, and striking out a total of 19 times throughout the game.
Top offensive players for Merrill include Asmundsen (1H, 1R, Double), and Drew Hoff (1BB,1SB,1R). Pitching for the Rangers was Justin Pyan. He threw all eight innings, striking out six, walking four, allowing eight hits and five runs.