Martin Hoger delivers a pitch during a Northwoods Babe Ruth Senior League tournament game between Laser Pros International and Merrill Black at Stafford Field Wednesday, July 12. Hoger pitched 5 1/3 innings of one-hit baseball in Laser Pros’ 6-4 victory. (Jeremy Mayo/River News)
7/15/2017 7:34:00 AM Babe Ruth Roundup Laser Pros gets by Merrill Black in tourney opener
Laser Pros International got out to an early lead but needed some late insurance to hold of Merrill Red Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Northwoods Babe Ruth Senior League tournament.
The lone Rhinelander team remaining scored twice in the top of the seventh and held on for a 6-4 victory in the second game of a tournament doubleheader at Stafford Field. Laser Pros will take on the winner of the first game, top-seeded Lakeland, this Wednesday in the semifinals in Tomahawk.
Laser Pros collected only four hits in the game, but those came in both of the team's multi-run innings. The Greyshirts manufactured a couple of other runs, got a dominant pitching performance from starter Martin Hoger and held off a furious rally as Merrill scored four times in its final two at-bats.
Back-to-back singles by Tyler Olson and Jordan Kuczmarski in the top of the seventh helped Laser Pros restore a bit go a cushion after Merrill slashed the lead to a single run. Olson eventually scored on a wild pitch and Kuczmarski came around on Alex Kubeny's fielder's choice to restore a three-run advantage.
A two-out single off reliever Danny Zuiker in the bottom of the inning cut the lead to two, and a subsequent walk put the tying run aboard, but Zuiker was able to record a strikeout to end the contest.
Merrill Black was able to get nothing going against Hoger, who went 5 1/3 innings before hitting the 95-pitch maximum. An infield hit in the fifth was the only base knock Hoger allowed. He struck out eight and walked two.
Zuiker gave up a walk and a pair of singles as he entered the game, and then surrendered a two-run base hit later in the inning to trim Laser Pros' lead to 4-3, but he recorded one of his three strikeouts to work out of the jam.
Laser Pros never trailed in the game, manufacturing a run right away in the top of the first. Zuiker walked, was bunted along by Max Spaulding, got to third when Hoger reached on an error and scored on Walker Hartman's sacrifice fly to right.
Hoger added a two-run single in the third to cap a two-out rally. Zuiker walked and Spaulding singled ahead of him. A subsequent error put both in scoring position for Hoger.
Seth Stafford drew a leadoff walk in the fifth and scored on an error following a ground ball by Lucius McCann to give Laser Pros a 4-0 lead.
Laser Pros and Lakeland will be the first half of next Wednesday's semifinal doubleheader at Tomahawk's Kahle Field. Crandon, which upset second-seeded Merrill Red will play in the nightcap against either Eagle River or Merrill Blue, whose contest was rained out Wednesday and will be made up Monday.
Rhinelander rolls in Prep opener
Top-seeded Rhinelander had little difficult with Crandon, routing the Cardinals 14-0 Thursday night in a Prep League quarterfinal in Crandon.
Joe Schneider got the win, pitching five shutout innings for the Hodags, allowing three hits and striking out two. Isaac Bixby struck out four an allowed one hit over the final two innings.
Relatively quite for most of the game, Rhinelander's offense finally came to life in the seventh inning, scoring nine runs to erase all doubt.
The Hodags pounded out 10 hits on the night, led by Schneider, who went 3 for 4 with three RBIs. Cole Lehman and Jacob Schoppe had two hits each. Bixby, Ian Miller and Mitch Wolosek also recorded hits.
The Hodags will host a tournament semifinal game Tuesday night against Tomahawk Blue.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Northwoods River News | Walker Communications, LLC 232 S. Courtney Street, Rhinelander, WI 54501 | Office (715) 365-6397 | Fax (715) 365-6361
Corporate billing office: The Lakeland Times / Lakeland Printing Inc. | P.O. Box 790, Minocqua, WI 54548 | (715) 356-5236 | Fax (715) 358-2121 Members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Community Papers, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce