September 5, 2023 at 7:00 a.m.
Grand finale

Snowhawks hit four homers in final game vs. Lake Tom Tap House

Nick Merckz picks up the ball as Lake Tom Tap House’s Nick Pitterle runs down the first base line in the ninth inning of the Snowhawks’ 25-8 win Monday, Aug. 28 at Snowshoe Park in Lake Tomahawk. (Brett LaBore/Lakeland Times)
Nick Merckz picks up the ball as Lake Tom Tap House’s Nick Pitterle runs down the first base line in the ninth inning of the Snowhawks’ 25-8 win Monday, Aug. 28 at Snowshoe Park in Lake Tomahawk. (Brett LaBore/Lakeland Times)

Sports Reporter

With the end of August comes the snowshoe baseball finale. The Lake Tomahawk Snowhawks snowshoe baseball team played its final game of the season last Monday.

The Snowhawks beat Lake Tom Tap House 25-8 at Snowshoe Park in Lake Tomahawk in what turned out to be a fun game.

“(I) wasn’t sure which team we were gonna get. Looks like a few people from (Liz Taylor’s) team that had never played before. We decided let’s just make it a fun night then. And that’s what it ended up to be,” player/coach Jeff Smith said. “I thought they would score more runs. They have some good players on their team. It didn’t happen so we just kind of went with it, had some fun and tried to get the fans into it. It was a nice, easier, relaxing game for us so that was nice.”

Before the game got out of hand, the first inning saw a tight contest. Lake Tom Tap House came out swinging with five straight batters reaching base.

Patsy Niemi found a way to get on first, scoring Jeff Ziemba. John Otteson doubled after a diving attempt by outfielder Jesse Robinson. Jamie Robinson, who also plays for the Snowhawks, hit an RBI single to center.

Liz Taylor also had an RBI single to center. Nick Pitterle grounded into a double play that took the wind out of their sails. Still, they had a 3-0 lead when all was said and done.

“It stayed three for a long time, and then they finally got something put together with a few shenanigans here and there and got some people on base and got them across the plate,” Smith said. “It was fun, and they had a blast, too. That’s all that counts.”

The Snowhawks came into the game loose, since it was the final game. Smith had a single. Two batters later, Tod Niemuth had a hit too. Jesse Robinson hit a double on a towering ball that finally landed in play. Smith came home to score.

“A lot of our guys were laughing and stuff on the sidelines. Last game, everybody more loose at the plate,” Smith said. 

Cole Punches delivered a two-run double to tie the game at three apiece.

It was all Snowhawks from the second inning on. In fact, counting the first inning, the Snowhawks went on a 25-0 run.

“It seemed like everything we hit was dropping in or an error there. That kind of just kept that inning going. The score got away from us a little bit, not much we can do,” Smith said. “You don’t want to deliberately make outs and make it look bad. Hopefully they can put a stop on it, but it was fun. It was perfect to end the year really.”

The bats were hot for the Snowhawks, including a total of four home runs courtesy of Jesse Robinson and Gunner Dunbar. They had two apiece.

The most electrifying home run came off the bat of Jesse Robinson. He hit a ball off the rooftop of the building in left field. His other home run was an inside-the-park home run to center field in the third.

“We’ve seen it a few times but he (hit the roof) in practice three times. We knew he was going to hit that roof that night,” Smith said. “It was a matter of getting the right pitch. He got all of it, it was an awesome hit.”

Dunbar hit both of his homers over the right field fence in the third and seventh innings. The Snowhawks put on a show for the fans in the final game of the season.

“He got ahold of a couple good ones too, that was nice to see,” Smith said. “The fans always like to see a home run, they were doing that just for them. We weren’t trying to run the score up or nothing, just trying to have fun.”

Lake Tom Tap House could not find a way to get runs home as their offense went cold. They had the bases loaded in the fourth inning, but walked away with nothing.

Double plays also came back to haunt Lake Tom Tap House. After Sammy Tingley got on base, Ziemba lined out and Niemi grounded into a double play in the sixth inning.

Finally, Lake Tom Tap House got back on the scoreboard in the eighth inning when Chris Zenner came home to score. 

In the top of the ninth inning, Lake Tom Tap House scored four runs. Pitterle singled and scored a run, as did Logan Ice. Lake Tom Tap House found their most success at the top of their lineup.

Every single Snowhawk reached base and scored at least one run. Smith and Dave Nance reached base in all of their at-bats.

The Snowhawks finish the summer with a 9-1 record. The final game of the season is always a bit melancholy for all.

“At first it doesn’t bother you much, but after Labor Day, you go through the Monday and off one week doesn’t seem like a big deal. Once that one week has past, that’s when you start missing it,” Smith said. “You miss the fan camaraderie and part of being there at the ballpark on a Monday night. It stays with you throughout the winter and it builds and you can’t wait for spring.”

Overall, it was another positive season in Lake Tomahawk. One of the highlights came when they beat the Chicago All-Stars on the Fourth of July for the first time since 2014.

“We had a terrific audience with fans. We had a full house, everyone was waiting for that season to start. Everyone came together as a town, and we really have to owe it to the fans and volunteers that put this all together, the teams who were willing to play,” Smith said. “It turned out to be a successful summer of 2023 because without all of that, it doesn’t seem the same. We played some good ball. It was a fun ride this year and the fans really enjoyed it. That’s what counts. That’s why we’re there. To put it all out for the fans.”

    Larry “Hammer” Schinke holds up his snowshoe plaque at the conclusion of the Snowhawks’ 25-8 win over Lake Tom Tap House Monday, Aug. 28 at Snowshoe Park in Lake Tomahawk. Schinke has been a part of snowshoe baseball since the 1960s. This year was his last year full-time. (Brett LaBore/Lakeland Times)


Prior to the game, the Snowhawks honored Larry “Hammer” Schinke with a snowshoe plaque. He’s been a part of snowshoe baseball since the 1960s. A former player, he’s been an umpire since Smith arrived in 2001. This was Schinke’s last year full-time.

Schinke even got a chance to hit in the eighth inning.

“Larry … has been an umpire, been a player for many years in the winter leagues and then played a little snowshoe in the summer and got into umping,” Smith said. “He’s thinking about retiring now and possibly traveling or doing things. He didn’t want to commit every Monday. It was kind of neat, he’s kind of an integral part of our team so we wanted to let him know that.”

Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].


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