The Chaps hosted the Osseo Merchants on Wednesday night as they tried to keep their hopes for the playoffs alive.
By Malachi David – The Chaps struggled through the first half of the game to generate much in terms of offense. They managed to get two hits and three baserunners through the first four innings as they tallied six strikeouts.
The fifth inning saw the Chaps add their first run as Alex Steines led off with a single. Jack Donahue followed that with another single. Then Ryan Metz singled. Followed by Cale Cuddie singling and driving in Steines.
The sixth inning yielded nothing for the Chaps they had two more strikeouts. Lucius Messerschmidt did have a single and advanced on a passed ball.
During those six innings, Westin Weutrich was on the mound for the Chaps. Weutrich had an up-and-down outing. He finished with four strikeouts, three walks, and six hits. However, Osseo was only able to score two runs in that span.
Weutrich showed a great deal of composure on two separate occasions as the Merchants had the bases loaded. Only one run was scored out of those two situations.
The seventh inning saw a change for the Chaps on the mound and at the plate.
Sam Schwanebeck came in to relieve Weutrich. Schwanebeck walked the first batter he faced, and was 14 pitches into his outing with no outs. He proceeded to get the baserunner in a rundown and the Chaps got their first out. The very next pitch finished a strikeout of the current batter. Schwanebeck added a second strikeout to close out the inning.
The bottom of the seventh brought a spark to the offense.
Jack Donahue reached first after being hit by a pitch. Cale Cuddie advanced him with his second single of the night. The next at-bat created a crazy series of plays for the Chaps.
Nate McDonald came into the game for Noah Panzer and had his first at-bat. He hit a single that scored Donahue. As Cuddie tried to advance to third, Osseo attempted to throw him out, but the throw was late. McDonald proceeded to second, and Osseo threw the ball over the second baseman’s head allowing Cuddie to score and McDonald to advance to third.
Bobby Pilz was walked in the next at-bat. Curtis Engelbrecht reached base on an error by Osseo. The pop fly was miscommunicated between the pitcher, catcher and first baseman for Osseo. As they picked up the ball and stood looking at each other, McDonald seized the opportunity and scored from third base.
When asked about his decisions on the basepaths, McDonald said, “It’s not what I saw from Osseo themselves, it’s just what I do. I’m an aggressive player.”
Luke Wirtz added a hit that scored Pilz as the Chaps added four runs in the seventh. They were up 5-2.
The Chaps gave up nothing to Osseo in the eighth inning.
Donahue and Metz were each walked to start the bottom of the eighth, as McDonald followed with another single. Pilz was also walked for the second consecutive time which led to another insurance run for the Chaps.
Going into the ninth, the Chaps had a 6-2 lead.
Things got interesting in the top of the ninth as Osseo started a rally. The mustered a walk and three hits off of Schwanebeck while scoring three runs. With a 6-5 lead, two outs, and two runners on, Schwanebeck struck out his seventh batter of the night to end the game.
Schwanebeck shared his thoughts on the late rally after the game, “I knew I had enough of a lead where if I could keep throwing good pitches, we would get out of it with the win. My catcher, Luke Wirtz, sarcastically asked me if I was going to throw strikes and I told him probably. The way he came out and asked really broke the seriousness of the situation and allowed me to relax.”
Last night’s win helps the Chaps keep their playoff hopes alive and has the team optimistic. McDonald added, “I definitely see it helping with our push for the playoffs. Osseo is a darn good ball club and we proved to ourselves tonight we can play with anyone. Just got to keep the errors down. Go Chaps!”
The Chaps play a makeup game in Tomahawk on Friday night before coming back on Saturday to play a home game against Spirit. That will be a 1:30 game at Jack Hackman field.