Hatchets triumph over Jays, setting Merrill on fire
The Merrill baseball team grabbed an early lead in last Tuesday’s game at Athletic Park, but the visiting Tomahawk squad tied it by the second and used a three-run Lorne Ahrens’ home run in the fourth to take 5-1 advantage that would hold up for the rest of the game.
Merrill used the loss as impetus to rip off three wins later in the week, including one over D3 top-rated Marathon.
For the Lincoln County contest, THS coach Wes Roessler said. “It’s big for us. We’ve been losing a few games that I thought we would win and playing close in other games. This one came into focus. We’ve got to send a statement for seeding purposes and building some momentum going into the playoffs.
“We’ve been awfully streaky with our hitting this year. It was nice to see a couple of the kids hit the ball hard.”
Ahrens also doubled on a 3-for-3 night and Bolder doubled while hitting 2-3. Tomahawk finished with seven hits.
“Lorne had a big day at the plate,” Roessler said. “He hit a clutch three-run home run,” THS coach Wes Roessler said. “At the time we were winning 2-1 and there were two outs. That was a huge momentum lift for the team.”
The Bluejays scored their run on singles from Mason Reinhardt, Ty Grunenwald and Alex Klug – three of the first four batters – to kick off the first inning. But Kevin Bolder struck out the next two batters to end the threat, then scattered three hits while striking out nine more over the rest of the game.
“There were no highlights,” MHS coach Brian Artac said. “We’re in a rut right now. Maybe we’ve got to make some changes. I’m all for it because this isn’t working. We shouldn’t be a 6-11 team, but I don’t know if we have the will to change.”
Merrill platooned its pitchers while Bolder went the distance for Tomahawk, after missing his start against Mosinee on Monday due to rain.
“(Bolder) was excited,” Roessler said. “First thing (Tuesday) morning he asked, ‘Do I get to pitch?’”
Artac added, “We knew we had to pitch a bunch of guys with three more games this week. I thought Klug pitched pretty good.”
Tomahawk– 011 300 0–5.
Merrill– 100 000 0–1.
MP: innings. Brian Stockowitz (2 I, 0 H, 2 W, 3 K, 0 R), Brad Juhlke (4 H, 2 W, 3 K, 4 R, 3 ER), Klug (2 I, 2 H, 0 W, 2 K, 0 R), Justin Pyan (1 H, 1 K, 0 R). MH: 6 H, 5 W; Stockowitz 2-4, 2B. TP: Bolder7 I, 6 H, 3 W, 11 K, 1 R, 1 ER. TH: 7 H, ?? W; Ahrens 3-3, 2B, HR, 3 RBI; Bolder 2-3, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Merrill pounded its way to a pair of wins in Thursday’s home WVC twin-bill with Wausau East, capturing 10-3 and 14-12 triumphs.
“We needed to win both ends of the double-header,” Artac said. “It was the night before the seeding meeting. We did not want to show them our #1 pitcher – which is David Pophal right now – and we got by without him. I’ve got to give Brian Stockowitz a lot of credit. He threw Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday and came up with two wins.”
Every player in the line-up had at least one hit in Game 1.
Wausau East 100 002 0–3
Merrill– 124 300 x–10.
MP: Stockowitz 5 I, 1 H, 3 W, 1 K, 1 R, 0 Er; Justin Pyan 2 I, 4 H, 0 W, 1 K, 2 R, 2 ER. MH: 15 H, 1 W; Ty Grunenwald 4-4, 2-2B, 2 R; Pophal 3-4, 2 R; Brad Juhlke 2-3.
The Bluejays scored five runs in the first and fourth innings to grab a substantial 12-3 lead , then held the Lumberjacks off after they made a late rally.
Merrill– 520 510 1–14.
Wausau East 030 054 0–12
MP: Juhlke 4 I, 4 H, 5 W, 2 K, 7 R, 6 ER; Pyan 1-2/3 I, 6 H, 0 W, 1 K, 5 R, 0 ER; Alex Klug 1-1/3 I, 1 H, 0 W, 0 K, 0 R. MH: 10 H, 9 W; Klug 3-4, 2 R; Grunenwald 2-3, HR, 4 R; Alex Zettler 2-4, 2 R; Pophal 1-2, 2 R, 2 RBI; Trey Stevenson 1-1, 3 RBI; Reinhardt 1-3, 2B, 2 W, 3 R; Cole Gustke 0-3, 2 RBI.
Marathon entered the contest as the #1 squad in D3, and scored the first runs of the game in the sixth to take a 2-0 lead.
But the Jays answered with four in the bottom of the frame to win 4-2.
“They saved their #1 for us and he’s a nice pitcher,” Artac said. “He could throw in the Valley. It turned out to be a half-way decent game for us.
“They were really grateful we played them to prepare them for their tournament games.”
Reinhardt led off the sixth with a double, and scored on Zettler’s hit. Grunenwald ripped an RBI double and Klug singled him home. Consecutive walks scored Klug.
Marathon– 000 002 0–2.
Merrill– 000 006 x–4.
MP: Pophal 7 I, 5 H, 6 W, 6 K, 2 R, 2 ER. MH: 5 H, 1 W; Grunenwald 2-3, 2B; Reinhardt 1-2, 2B.