7/14/2017 7:29:00 AM Post 89 shakes off slow start to down Northwoods
Photos by Nick Sabato/River News
Minocqua left fielder Jamie Slavinsky makes contact with a ball during the seventh inning of an 8-2 win over Northwoods in a Great Northern Legion Conference game on Monday, July 10, at Northland Pines High School in Eagle River.
Minocqua pitcher Austin Wanty was efficient all game, allowing just two runs and striking out nine during an 8-2 win over Northwoods on Monday, July 10, at Northland Pines High School in Eagle River.
EAGLE RIVER - It's the heart of summer and the American Legion baseball season is grinding to a close.
On Monday, Minocqua Post 89 made the trip to Eagle River to battle Northwoods in a Great Northern Legion Conference game at Northland Pines High School, making up a game originally scheduled for June 28.
Both teams got off to a sluggish start, combining for one base runner and no hits in the first two innings. Finally, Minocqua was able to break through in the third and tacked onto its lead in the fifth to scratch out an 8-2 victory.
"It was like we weren't ready the first time through the order there," Minocqua manager Mike Wilhelm said. "We made some adjustments in the huddle and then the guys put the adjustments to good use at the plate. We started seeing better pitches and hitting better pitches."
It's getting to the midway point of the summer and most of the high school-aged players have been playing baseball since the middle of March.
Playing for that length of time can begin to wear on players, particularly mentally.
"We're getting into the dog days of summer here. We've been playing baseball basically since March, so it's a long time," Wilhelm said. "It's something we have to fight through with the playoffs coming and hopefully play our best baseball."
Minocqua finally got its offense in gear during the third inning. Jamie Slavinsky led off by getting hit by a pitch, followed by a single from Caleb Menzia. Brett Slavinsky's ground ball eventually scored both to take a 2-0 lead.
Austin Wanty drove in a run on a ground ball and Bryce Crabtree had an RBI single to give Post 89 a 4-0 advantage.
Northwoods would score in the bottom half of the inning, but Minocqua was able to build a cushion in the top of the fifth. Wanty walked and Crabtree singled, before a double steal put both runners in scoring position for Michael Campbell, who then pounded a 2-run double to take a 6-1 lead. Campbell would later score on a passed ball.
"That was a huge hit," Wilhelm said. "I think we had runners on second and third with nobody out at that point. Just looking to put something in play, but put something in play hard and that's what Michael did for us. It kind of got us going and kept us going today."
While it took some time for Minocqua to find its offense, Wanty was consistent and efficient all game on the mound.
Wanty went the distance, allowing just two runs on five hits and three walks, while striking out nine. Heading into the sixth inning, he only had 62 pitches and finished with 109 for the game.
"Austin is an incredibly accurate thrower and then when you put him on the mound it gets even better," Wilhelm said. "You know he's going to be around the plate. He's going to strike out four, five, six guys out and walk maybe one or two. He's a kid that's going to pound the zone, throw strikes, he's going to give up a few hits here or there, but we're typically going to play good defense and that's what he does."
Campbell and Brett Slavinsky finished with two RBIs apiece, while Crabtree went 3 for 4 at the dish and Menzia went 2 for 4 in the win.
Minocqua (11-6) was scheduled to face Prentice/Phillips in a non-conference matchup on Wednesday, before returning home tonight to battle Medford.
Regional schedule set
Minocqua will have a tough draw right out of the gate when District 2 regional play opens next Wednesday in Rhinelander.
The 89ers will face the Antigo Typhoon, the defending regional champion in the second game of Wednesday's opening round. Merrill will take on Northwoods in the opener while Shawano will take on Rhinelander in the nightcap.
The six-team, double-elimination tournament will run through Saturday, July 22.
Nick Sabato may be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter @SabatoNick.