8/31/2012 8:00:00 AM Snow Hawks down All-Stars in snowshoe season finale Annual benefit game raised more than $600 for Lakeland Pantry
John Brock (right) throws the ball to second baseman Todd Christenson during Monday night’s season finale for snowshoe baseball. The Snow Hawks saw record-breaking crowds this season, averaging more than 1,200 visitors per night. Bryan Rose photograph
With the entire season under their belts, the Lake Tomahawk Snow Hawks are a well-oiled machine by the time the end of the year rolls around. The Over 35 All Stars found that out Monday night as the Snow Hawks pulled away early on the way to a 22-10 victory in the season finale at the Lake Tomahawk snowshoe baseball field. But it was not the score that was the most important thing Monday as the annual game benefits the Lakeland Pantry. The Snow Hawks and those attending the game donated more than $600 to the Lakeland Pantry in addition to several hundred pounds of food items to help families in the area. “It is always a lot of fun to have the Over 35 All Stars come out and play,” Snow Hawks’ manager Don Hilgendorf said. “A lot of these guys play a game or two during the season and are pretty good ball players. Everyone has a great time.” Hilgendorf said everyone is happy to be able to give something back to an organization that helps feed deserving families in the Lakeland area. “They have a great organization and great cause,” Hilgendorf said. “We are happy that we can be a part of it every year. Our fans do a great job of donating and bringing in food items for the pantry to use.” Fans were also treated to a high scoring affair on the sawdust diamond as well, though most of those runs came courtesy of the Snow Hawks early. Lake Tomahawk scored five runs in the first inning as the first five hitters all reached safely and came around to score. Todd Niemuth and Derrick Young each had two RBI hits, while Ryan Schowalter also collected an RBI single. That made the score 5-2 after the All-Stars scored two runs in the top of the first as Todd Christenson collected a two RBI single, scoring Brian Jacquist and John Ottoson. After holding the All-Stars scoreless in the second inning, the Snow Hawks added a run in their half as Donnie Moore reached on an error and later scored. The All-Stars picked up another run in the top of the third inning as Jeff Brock singled in Jacquist and the Snow Hawks lead was cut to 6-3. But Lake Tomahawk would put the game away in the next two innings, plating 11 runs over the two frames. In the third, the Snow Hawks received RBI singles from Matt Serwe and Schowalter, while Craig Holmquist capped the inning with a two RBI double. In the fourth, it was more of the same as Serwe and Schowalter again collected RBI singles along with Alex Bailey. Like he did an inning before, Holmquist punctuated the inning with a two RBI single and came around to score. Both teams exchanged runs throughout the rest of the game until the ninth when the All-Stars showed they would not give up until the final out was made. Trailing 22-7, the All-Stars led off with a hit from Chuck Templin. After the next two batters were out, John Ottoson stepped in and hit a run-scoring triple. Jeff Brock kept the rally going as he drove in Ottoson with a double and came in to score on a Snow Hawks throwing error. But Lake Tomahawk would get the next batter to fly out and the game ended at 22-10. The game was the final contest for the Snow Hawks who finished the year unbeaten despite some close contests against the Chicago All Stars, the NRG Media Team and the Minocqua Wood Ducks. All four of those games – the Snow Hawks played Chicago twice – were decided by one run. Hilgendorf said it was that excitement that made this season the most-attended in the history of snowshoe baseball. “We set a new attendance record this year,” he said. “We were averaging around 1,200 people a night. And every night I would hear from someone who had never been to a snowshoe game before and all of them say they are definitely coming back.” The Snow Hawks will begin their 2013 season in late June. Bryan Rose may be reached via email at email@example.com.