Hatchet sluggers fall to Antigo, Lakeland
For the Tomahawk Leader
TOMAHAWK – The Tomahawk Hatchet baseball team hosted Antigo and Lakeland last week. While the Hatchets’ defeat at the hands of the the Red Robins was a barn burner, the loss to the Thunderbirds was a heartbreaker.
The Hatchets also travelled to T-Bird country on Thursday, May 6 for a rematch against Lakeland.
The Hatchets faced Antigo at Tyler Kahle Memorial Field in Tomahawk on Friday, April 30, and what looked like a blip on the radar became a snowball down a steep hill as Antigo used a nine-run first inning to power their way to a 19-2, five-inning Great Northern Conference victory.
Hatchet starting pitcher Garrett Nelson had recorded the second out of the inning after Red Robin senior Eli Fleishmann had doubled in the game’s first run. From there, Antigo sent nine batters to the plate, tacking eight more runs on the board before reliever Ryan Skees ended the inning with a flyout to center.
Antigo would add six more runs off Skees in the second inning before Tomahawk answered with a run of their own. A leadoff double by Isaiah Scheffler followed by consecutive groundouts to shortstop – the second by Payton Bunce – drove in the run. Bunce drove in the Hatchets’ second run in the fourth inning with a base hit to right field, but the inning ended with Marcus Matti being thrown out at third base behind the run scored by Scheffler, who had walked earlier in the inning.
“We didn’t seem to handle some of the down time between arriving at the field and the start of the game very well,” said coach Scot Neu. “When you’re a little flat mentally sometimes things can snowball quickly, and that’s exactly what happened. The good thing is we have another opportunity with Lakeland and Northland Pines to start the month of May to improve.”
The Lakeland Thunderbirds came to town on Monday, May 3, and the T-Birds escaped with a 3-2 win after a two-run rally in the seventh inning.
The T-Bird rally began with a leadoff base hit by centerfielder Max Toijala, who was sacrificed to second by first baseman Zach Peterson. Toijala moved to third on a wild pitch ahead of a walk and stolen base by catcher Erik Albertus. Both Toijala and Albertus would later score the decisive runs, aided by a Hatchet error and a base hit by T-bird pitcher Alex Fortier. The inning ended without further damage with Tomahawk rightfielder Ryan Skees recording the second out of the inning on a fly ball from Keaton Breuer – Skees then threw out Fortier at home plate as he tried to tag up.
Tomahawk struck first with a pair of runs in the second inning. A one-out single by Payton Bunce followed by consecutive two-out hits by Tyler Jablonski and Tyler Welke and an error plated the Hatchet runs.
The Hatchets plated a run with two outs in the third, but an appeal by Lakeland at first base resulted in Bunce being called out for missing first base, wiping out the run and ending the inning. Tomahawk had baserunners in each remaining inning but was unable to break through.
“It was impossible for me to tell if (Payton) Bunce did or did not touch the base,” Neu stated. “I don’t have an angle from the third base box and I was watching the play develop from left-center field where the ball was hit and having (Garrett) Nelson score on the hit. It obviously played a big role late as one run would have meant a win vs. a tie.”
“The bottom line is, we played the game better, turned a couple of double plays, limited mistakes and big innings, which put us in position to be successful, the next step will be to close the deal,” Neu added.
Lakeland, game two
The Tomahawk sluggers returned to the diamond on Thursday, May 6, for a rematch against Lakeland in T-Bird country.
Lakeland used a four-run second inning to extend an early lead on their way to a 12-2, five-inning GNC victory.
The T-Birds got on the board with a single run in the bottom of the first after Tomahawk was unable to plate a leadoff hit by Jake Kaminsky. Will Fortier came around to score after reaching on a fielder’s choice on a two-out triple to right-center by Alex Fortier.
Garrett Nelson led off the second for the Hatchets with a double and went to third after Tyler Jablonski reached on an error. The rally fizzled, however, as Jablonski was picked off first base, followed by consecutive strikeouts by Logan Bishop and Ryan Skees.
Lakeland put runners at second and third in the bottom of the frame with two outs, and Tomahawk appeared to have gotten out of the inning, but an error kept the inning alive for the T-Birds, eventually leading to four unearned runs and a 5-0 Hatchet deficit, from which they would not recover.
Isaiah Scheffler took the loss for Tomahawk, pitching two-plus innings, allowing four hits and eight runs, four earned. Skees covered the final two innings.
Nelson drove in both Hatchet runs, one on a triple in the fourth and a single in the fifth as part of a three-hit game.
A doubleheader against Northland Pines at Tyler Kahle Memorial Field in Tomahawk was slated to get underway at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 8.
Tomahawk kicked off this week with a game in Medford on Tuesday, May 11.
The Hatchets will be back in action at Tyler Kahle Memorial Field on Friday, May 14, when they host Medford for a rematch that starts at 5 p.m.