Ryan Schowalter of the Snowhawks makes an underhand throw from his knees against Smiley’s Pub Monday, Aug. 5 at Snowshoe Park. (Brett LaBore/Lakeland Times)
8/10/2019 7:33:00 AM Snowhawks prevail in close win over Smiley's
by Brett LaBore of the Lakeland Times
The Lake Tomahawk Snowhawks played one of their closest and most entertaining games of the year Monday evening when Smiley's Pub came to Snowshoe Park.
The Snowhawks prevailed 12-10 as both two teams hung in there despite slippery conditions.
"Overall, our defense did good for the conditions," player-coach Jeff Smith said. "It was wet, and the ball was slippery so there were a lot of nice plays tonight."
The game became interesting in the seventh as Smiley's, trailing 9-6, prevented the Snowhawks from scoring runs and began to trim the deficit in their half of the inning.
Nick Cleveland legged out an infield single to load the bases. John Otteson singled to left to bring home two runs. It was 9-8 as the Snowhawks had their closest game in weeks.
Derek Young gave the Snowhawks some breathing room in the seventh with an RBI single and a 10-8 lead.
The eighth inning started with an error from pitcher Nick Merckx. Trying to take advantage of that, Smiley's Patsi Niemi grounded into a double play to end the inning.
"We ended up turning some double plays to get out of some sticky situations, but they always found a way to get guys on base and found a way to get runs," Smith said.
The craziest sequence of events came in the Snowhawks' half of the eighth. With Smith on first, Paul Miller hit a fly ball that was dropped by Jeff Ziamba in left. Smith raced around the bases to reach third base where an overthrow caused him to score.
The ball was flying around the field and when the dust settled, the Snowhawks led 11-8. Another run scored on a Cole Punches fly out.
Down four runs in the ninth, Smiley's had one more chance. Todd Christianson singled to center to bring home one run. It was 12-9. With one out, Otteson drove in yet another run to make it 12-10. With two outs, Wentland popped out and the game was over.
For Smiley's, a couple of hits by Otteson and Wade Wentland drove in Christianson for an early 1-0 lead.
The Snowhawks answered in the bottom of the second. Young started it off with a triple followed by a Ryan Schowalter single. The game was tied 1-1.
Dave Nance singled and scored to bring up Smith, who did the same thing. The final hit came from Donny Moore, who singled home the last run of the inning. Five runs had scored and it was 5-1 Snowhawks.
"Tonight we had some well placed balls, some should have dropped and some didn't," Smith said. "Some balls hit the gaps and some were right at guys."
Ziamba made sure Smiley's had some type of response to the Snowhawks big inning.
On a hit to shallow center, Moore was caught in between diving or laying up as he fell down and the ball rolled all the way to deep center field. Ziamba had himself a home run. It was still 5-2 Snowhawks.
"Some of the same players we played last week, but they just couldn't get hits," Smith said. "Tonight (Smiley's) got hits."
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Moore reached on a drop in right field. The ball was slippery from the rain. Then Punches singled to put runners on the corners. Jacob Hodgdon singles up the middle for an RBI and a 7-2 lead.
With two outs, Schowalter beat out an infield single to keep the inning going. That was important as Billy Kuckkahn hit a bloop RBI single to make it 9-2 Snowhawks.
Smiley's loaded the bases in the sixth inning. Otteson brought one run in on a fielder's choice. Then Wentland drove in two on a double to left center. It was 9-5 Snowhawks as Smiley's chipped away at the lead.
"They had some good talent on that team," Smith said. "That team got a lot of hits tonight."
A sacrifice fly by Mike McKenzie drove in Wentland to finish the scoring.
The Snowhawks are back in action this Monday as they play Zimmy's All-Stars at 7:30 p.m. at Snowshoe Park.
Brett LaBore may be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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