The Merchants had quite a weekend in Spooner.
The Upper 13 League champs earned the region’s top seed in the Wisconsin Baseball Association playoffs and won both games at the regional tournament to advance to the state finals for the first time in nearly two decades.
The Merchants opened the playoffs with a come-from-behind 6-4 win over the Hudson River Rats on Saturday.
Hudson batters knocked in three runs on three hits to take an early lead in the top of the second inning, but Earl Kraft pulled the Merchants right back with a two-run single that scored Joey Seeger and Tim King to trim the lead to 3-2 in the bottom half of the inning. Erik Hakamaki then plated Kraft to tie the game later in the second.
Ashland extended its lead in the third inning, with Taylor Stibbe, Seeger and Kraft each delivering a base hit and scoring a run to make it 6-3.
Hudson added one more in the seventh inning to give the game its final score.
Seeger finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored, Kraft had two hits and a run, and Bob Tyndall fanned six batters in a complete game win.
Ashland ran into fellow Upper 13 League members Lake Superior Sea Dogs in the regional final on Sunday, and won 2-0 to clinch the state berth.
Mike Groom and Matt Tarasewicz each scored in the second inning on RBIs from Hakamaki and Seeger.
Tarasewicz and Kraft had two hits apiece in the win.
Derek Jardine struck out five in seven innings of work on the mound, and Tyndall closed out the victory with two innings in relief.
Ashland advances as the No. 5 seed and will face the No. 4 seed Tilden Tigers in the quarterfinal round of the WBA state finals on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Menomonie.
The state finals begin Friday evening with No. 3 seed Osseo taking on the sixth-seeded Eau Claire Bears, followed by the No. 2 seed Spooner Cardinals playing the No. 7 seed Eau Claire Cavaliers.
The other quarterfinal game on Saturday features the top-seeded Chaseburg-Coon Valley Blues against the No. 8 seed Hayward Hawks.
Semifinals begin Saturday at 4:30 p.m., and the state championship is set for Sunday at noon.