Rangers on the playoff cusp
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 3:52 PM
The Merrill Rangers pulled off a 9-0 triumph over Minocqua last Wednesday to put themselves within one game of playoff guarantee, but Dairyland League foe Whittlesey wrapped up the third seed in the division with Saturday’s 11-1 victory in seven innings.
Home team Whittlesey improved to 8-2 – just one game behind Everest and Rib Lake – while Merrill fell to a fifth-place 5-5, on the verge of a playoff berth. The Rangers are likely in, but won’t know for sure until after Tuesday night’s seeding meeting.
“We’ll be ready to go,” Merrill manager Shawn Schultz said. “We’ll see who’s left. Alex (Grunenwald) is back to school and Ty (Grunenwald) had the appendectomy, but we’ll get some guys back who have been hurting.”
Saturday’s was tight early, but three in the fourth and back-to-back three run innings later did the Rangers in.
“We had a chance to guarantee a playoff spot at 6-4,” Schultz said. “Alex pitched all right. We didn’t do a lot of hitting. We’ve had trouble with them the last couple of years.”
Merrill– 010 000 0–1.
Whittlesey– 011 303 3–11.
MP: Alex Grunenwald 6 I, 7 H, 1 W, 1 K, 8 R; Alex Cordova 1 I, 5 H, 3 R. MH 4 H, 4 W, 7 K; Garrett Pagel 2-3; Alex Grunenwald 1-1, 2 W; Brad Kanitz 1-3.
Merrill was embroiled in a 0-0 game with Minocqua for three innings before scoring three in the fourth and five in the sixth.
“They were at 3-5 coming in, so if they had won the last two, they would have been playoff eligible,” Schultz said. “They had won their last three, so they were ready to play. They had plans to make the playoffs.
“The kid that throws for them is pretty good – Mike Dumask. Then we scored five in the sixth and that makes it a lot more comfortable. He just ran out of gas and we took advantage of it.”
Minocqua– 000 000 000–0.
Merrill– 000 305 01x–9.
MP: Schultz 7 I, 2 H, 2 W, 4 K, 0 R; Chase Nelson 2 I, 0 H, 0 W, 3 K, 0 R. MH 14 H, 5 W, 5 K; Kanitz 4-6; Ty Grunenwald 2-3, 2 R; Cordova 2-4, 2 R; Pagel 1-3, 3B, 2 W; Ben Anderson 2-4; Chase Nelson 1-4, 2B; Kyle Rajek 1-5, 2B; Chris Grunenwald 1-5, 2B.