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home : lt sports : sports April 30, 2016

6/27/2014 8:56:00 AM
Snowhawks open 53rd season with 13-6 win
Nate Schmidt is greeted by the Snowhawk bench after smacking a two-run homer in the fifth inning.Jamie Taylor photograph

Nate Schmidt is greeted by the Snowhawk bench after smacking a two-run homer in the fifth inning.

Jamie Taylor photograph

Jeff Smith made short work of this shot hit back to the mound early in the game.Jamie Taylor photograph

Jeff Smith made short work of this shot hit back to the mound early in the game.

Jamie Taylor photograph


Jamie Taylor
Reporter/Photographer


Once again, Lake Tomahawk solidified its claim as the “Snowshoe Baseball Capital of the World” Monday evening when the Snowhawks opened their 53rd season of hijinks on the sawdust of Snowshoe Park with a 13-6 win over the squad from Smiley’s Pub.

In what can best be described as a hybrid of the traditional sport of baseball and snowshoeing while played with all the showmanship of the Harlem Globetrotters, the Snowhawks kept the large crowd entertained from first pitch to last out.

“This was one of the biggest crowds we’ve ever had for an opening game,” manager Don Hilgendorf said. 

The Hawks wasted no time showing their superiority at playing the game in the awkward footwear on the sawdust- and wood shavings-covered field, jumping out to a five run lead in the bottom of the first inning on seven hits. The Smiley’s squad found that while hitting the huge mush ball is easy, getting it past the sure-footed “home team” was difficult as they only mustered one hit in the top of the first.

It didn’t help that there was a wet spot on the first baseline that made footing tricky about five feet from the plate. Several players on both teams ran afoul of it before they learned to shuffle around it while heading to first.

Jeff Smith got things rolling with a leadoff single, followed by Donnie Moore, who also singled. Tom Ziemba drove in Smith with a double followed by Jordan Schmidt who hit a two-run double to clear the bases. Todd Niemuth also hit a double and scored. Singles by Derrick Young and Craig Holmquist rounded out the inning.

The Hawks added another run in the bottom of the second. With two away, Smith again rapped a single as did Moore and Ziemba, the latter driving home Smith.

Smiley’s got the hang of the game in the top of the third and tied the game on six runs.

Nick Cleveland got things rolling with a single followed by Bart Tegan and Jack Dunbar. With one out, Jeff Ziemba drove in two runs with a single, followed by a two RBI singles by Jesse Drossart and Jeff Brock. John Ottoson and Dominic Caroselli also picked up an RBI each, the first on a single the second on a sacrifice fly.

The game was knotted through the fourth and top half of the fifth, but the Snowhawks drove in four in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead for good.

Tom Ziemba led off the inning with a single and Schmidt hit a double. Alex Bailey hit a deep sacrifice fly that scored Ziemba, then Schmidt hit a two-run homer over the new right field net that had robbed one member of Smiley’s of an earlier homer. Niemuth followed that up with a double and Young reached on an error by the first baseman. Holmquist drove Niemuth in with a sacrifice fly for the second out and the inning ended two batters later.

The Hawks got three more runs in the bottom of the eighth. Holmquist led off with a single, followed by Billy Kuckkahn, who also ripped a single. After one out was tallied, Dustin Smith drove home a couple runs with a single, and another single from Moore plated Smith.

“We showed no rust whatsoever from the long winter as we pounded out 26 hits,” Hilgendorf said. 

Hilgendorf said the team looked forward to an ever-growing fan base and crowds this year.

“This will be a super year for the program” he said. “The highlight has to be the three games (two regular softball) with the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team on July 25 and 26.”

The team has been fundraising for several months to cover the transportation and lodging for the Wounded Warrior team’s visit. Any proceeds from the donations not used for that purpose or for improvements to the field needed to stage the game will be donated directly to the Wounded Warrior team.

“Monetary support has been phenomenal and it shows what great people we have here in the Northwoods,” Hilgendorf said.

The Snowhawks will take to the field this Monday against the team from Happy Daze at 7:30 p.m. Get there early to get a good seat and the best selection of homemade pies and other goodies at the concession stand.

Jamie Taylor may be reached at jtaylor@lakelandtimes.com.







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