Merrill 12U comes up just short
The Merrill Little League 12U All-Stars pulled off a super-exciting win while eliminating Antigo 6-5 from the District 5 Tournament last Tuesday
But the kids found themselves on the other end of that stick the very next day when Rhinelander won a 12-1 game.
“The kids gave 110%,” Merrill manager Kevin Golisch said. “The whole staff was proud of the kids’ efforts. They fought with everything they had.
“We were a game away from the championship game. That’s a pretty good accomplishment.”
The Antigo game represented Merrill’s third consecutive win after an 11-6 opening loss to eventual champ Wausau American.
“It was just a great Little League game,” Golisch said.
Antigo jumped out 3-0 after a half-inning, and it took a 3-run 3rd for Merrill to knot it up. Ty Belfiori was hit by a pitch and two errors set the table for Jonathon Gruetzmacher’s bases-clearing double.
After Antigo scored a solo run in the 4th, Merrill took its first lead at 5-4 in the bottom of the frame. Tad Pike and Chase Zahn walks wrapped around an error loaded the path for Belfiori’s 2-run single. But the visitors tied it at 5-5 on a lead-off homer in the 5th.
After that blast, Merrill brought Ryan Golisch to the mound and he struck out the side for the final two innings, only a 5th-inning walk and two 6th-inning errors marring a perfect stretch.
The local boys put two runners in scoring position in the 5th to no avail, but in the 6th, Belfiori singled, took second on a bobble, and reached 3rd on a wild pitch. Golisch singled him home and the celebration was on.
Gruetzmacher (3-3, 3 RBI) and Belfiori (2-4, 2 RBI) helped Merrill reach 8 hits. Nick Bowe, Golisch and Tad Pike also hit.
Golisch (0 H, 1 W, 6 K, 0 R in 2 I) picked up the win. Gruetzmacher (2 H, 3 W, 1 K, 3 R, 2 ER in 1/3 I) and Belfiori (4 H, 2 W, 2 K, 2 ER in 3-2/3 I) started it out.
Merrill fell behind 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning of Wednesday’s game, but tied it up on Belfiori’s lead-off homer in the 3rd.
“It was a great game up to the third inning,” Golisch said.
Hodag pounded out 10 hits off three different Merrill pitchers in that 3rd however, racking up 11 runs.
“Because of Little League rules and their pitch count, we had to burn three pitchers against Antigo,” Golisch said. “Two would have been available again Thursday.
“We threw strikes just the way we asked them to, they just hit the ball where we weren’t. I can’t fault Trey at all.”
Trey Seubert (7 H, 1 W, 3 K, 8 R, 8 ER in 2-1/3 I) started, and R.T. Hartson (4 H, 1 W, 4 R, 4 ER in 1/3 I), Brian Timm (1 H, 2 W) and Chase Zahn (1 K in 1/3 I) relieved.
Belfiori (3-3, HR) paced the hitting and Bowe, Seubert and Pike added hits.
Wausau American pulled out a 10-0 game over Rhinelander on Thursday for the District 5 title.