OCONOMOWOC — A remedy arrived Sunday afternoon.
The Oconomowoc Five O’s cured their season-long three-game losing streak with an 11-3 Land O’ Lakes Baseball League triumph over the Merton Amvets at Roosevelt Field. They evened their Kettle Moraine Division record at 4-4 and hiked their overall ledger to 11-6, while Merton tumbled to 2-9 and 3-13, respectively.
“It was nice to bounce back with a win after the three in a row in the ‘L’ column,” Oconomowoc manager Bob Anderson said. “It’s a broken record, but we had great pitching again today. Jackson Brown threw very well for six innings. I think he could have gone another inning, but we wanted to give Cole Ninmann some work.
“Ninmann came in and was as sharp as I’ve seen him all year in his first two innings. He got a little out of sorts in his last inning, but really reeled it in and got the outs when it mattered.”
The most impactful difference in the Five O’s performance in comparison to their previous three outings came at the plate. They collected 12 hits including five for extra bases.
Alec Esenther, hitting out of the No. 3 slot in the order, ripped a triple, a double and two singles in his five at-bats and knocked in two runs. Ninmann and Jonah Landowski both doubled, singled and drove in a run.
“It was nice to see bats come alive,” Anderson said. “We had a lot fewer strikeouts and pop-ups than we did in our three latest games. We pounded the ball all day.
“Alec Esenther hit the ball hard four times, and Cole Ninmann was solid with the stick also.”
Sean Meyer was hit by a pitch, moved to third on an Esenther double and scored the game’s first run on a groundout by Michael Zordani in the bottom of the first inning.
Merton got a run-scoring triple from Luke Schraufnagel and an RBI double from Matthews Ford in the top of the third, but Oconomowoc had an emphatic response, scoring seven times in the bottom of the frame.
Sean Meyer opened the inning by reaching on an error on the right fielder and scored on an Esenther single. Zordani reached on a fielder’s choice and raced to third on a Landowski double, then Mau Villegas, Ninmann and Ethan Brown — who was making his Five O’s debut — lined consecutive run-scoring singles. Austin Meunier walked, then Jack Anderson singled to chase home two more runs.
The Amvets managed only one hit and advanced past first only once in the ensuing five innings against Brown and then Ninmann, who came on in the seventh.
Oconomowoc extended its lead with two runs in the fifth. Ninmann led off with a double and scored when Anderson reached on an error, then Sean Meyer walked and Esenther came through with an RBI single.
The Five O’s tallied their final run in the eighth when Esenther belted a leadoff triple and rode home on a one-out Landowski single.
Merton parlayed three walks and a sacrifice fly into one run in the top of the ninth before Ninmann slammed the door shut.
Brown earned the pitching victory after yielding only two runs on three hits and four walks while striking out five in his six innings. Ninmann, who fanned the side in the seventh, gave up one run on no hits and three walks and totaled six strikeouts.
Anderson liked his team’s hit total, but still wants to see better at-bats from the Five O’s when they have runners in scoring position.
“We still have to get better at situational hitting,” he said. “We’ve had so many opportunities that we haven’t capitalized on this season.
“When there are less than two outs and the infield is in with a runner at third, that’s an easy situation. You could hit a duck fart and be a hero. We can’t sit and watch strikes. We have to be more aggressive and put the ball in play. We have to get better at that for the rest of this season and moving forward into next year.”
Oconomowoc will complete its 2022 regular season by hosting Monches at noon Saturday.