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CRBL: Tilden's Steinmetz named league Most Valuable Player

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CRBL Championship: Osseo at Tilden 8-6-22

Tilden's Jordan Steinmetz (29) smiles after hitting a home run against Osseo in last Saturday's CRBL title game at Casper Park.

The Chippewa River Baseball League had a number of significant milestones and achievements throughout the 2022 season.

Tilden outfielder Jordan Steinmetz was named the league's Most Valuable Player, his first MVP award in the league. Jim Falls pitcher Will Jacobson earned league Rookie of the Year honors, and Sturgeons manager Peter Thaler was named Jan Krueger Manager of the Year for the very first time. The Cadott Red Sox earned their sixth Sportsmanship Award (1987, 1991, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022).

Steinmetz also was named a unanimous All-CRBL team selection in the outfield, his second time earning the honor. He was joined in the outfield by the Eau Claire Bears' Todd Lasher (his ninth) and the Eau Claire Rivermen's Lance Lettner (first). Chippewa Falls second baseman Matt Martineau was a unanimous selection at second, Tilden's Drew Steinmetz earned his second selection at shortstop, Cadott's Zac Merritt was a first-time honoree at third base and Eau Claire Cavaliers first baseman Cooper Kapanke was selected to the all-league team for the first time.

Osseo catcher Todd Wienkes was picked for the first time, while Eau Claire Rivermen designated hitter Andy Niese was selected for the 13th time. Tilden pitcher PJ LeQuia was unanimously selected for his first honor, Osseo's Luke Eide was chosen for the second time and Eau Claire Bears hurler Joel Zachow was selected to the team for his first time. There were eight first-time honorees and two repeat honorees from 2021 (Eide and Jordan Steinmetz). Niese is the league's career leader in selections, and Lasher is now third.

Eau Claire Rivermen pitcher Tyler Gray was selected as an all-league team honorable mention for a seventh time, the most in CRBL history. Jim Falls centerfielder Tristin Hable is a two-time honorable mention (2019, 2022), while Beef River catcher Brendan McCabe, Bloomer catcher Tyler Plitzner, Cadott shortstop Chad Kron, Chippewa Falls shortstop Nolan Hutzler, Eau Claire Bears pitcher Chevy Tollefson, Eau Claire Cavaliers shortstop Ben Boda, Osseo outfielder Nolan Matson and Tilden outfielder Lucas Steinmetz were each honorable mentions for the first time.

This year's CRBL Gold Glove winners included three repeat winners in the second year of the award — Beef River second baseman Taylor Rathke, Bloomer utility player Jake Malinowski and Cadott centerfielder Shawn Sedlacek. Chippewa Falls catcher Caleb Gardow, Eau Claire Bears catcher/outfielder Joe Halling, Eau Claire Cavaliers second baseman Caden Erickson, Lettner, Jim Falls second baseman Ryan Krumenauer, Osseo first baseman Joe Zawacki and Tilden first baseman Christian Hall earned gold gloves for the first time.

And as six squads — the Tilden Tigers, Chippewa Falls Lumberjacks, Jim Falls Sturgeons, Osseo Merchants, Eau Claire Bears and Eau Claire Rivermen — prepare to start Wisconsin Baseball Association state tournament competition this weekend, take a look back at the noteworthy performances and milestones achieved throughout the season.

Hitting

• Jim Thill of the Eau Claire Bears became the CRBL’s all-time leader in triples. For the 2022 season, he hit two triples, giving him 15 for over his 22-year career. The all-time triples leaders had been Hall of Famer Roger Bergeron and longtime Bear, Brian Menard.

• Matt Miller of the Eau Claire Bears became the CRBL’s all-time leader in steals with 147. His three stolen bases on the year broke a tie of 144 with former Whitehall great Tyler Manley.

• With 16 RBI in 2022, Todd Lasher of the Eau Claire Bears moved into second place all-time with 348. The all-time RBI leader is Hall of Famer Scott Stuckert with 365.

• With eight runs scored, Andy Niese of the Eau Claire Rivermen moved into second place all-time with 422. The all-time leader in runs scored is future Hall of Famer Chuck Hall with 448.

• On Sunday, July 24, at Cadott, Osseo’s Brandt and Ryan Freitag each hit two home runs in the Merchant’s 14-1 victory over the Cadott Red Sox. In doing so, they became the first father-son combo to hit multiple home runs in the same CRBL game.

Pitching

• The Eau Claire Rivermen’s Tyler Gray hurled 78⅓ innings this season, leading the CRBL and becoming the third pitcher in league history to go over 1,000 innings for a career. Tyler now has 1,073⅔ innings over his outstanding 17-year reign. The all-time leader is Hall of Fame Iron Man Russ Nelson, who logged 1,770⅓ innings over his 35-seasons of play.

• Additionally, Tyler led the CRBL with 81 strikeouts while also becoming the third pitcher in CRBL history to over 1,000 punch-outs. Over his career, Tyler now has 1,057 Ks. The all-time leader is the aforementioned Russ Nelson with 1,163.

• Osseo’s Luke Eide notched a no-hitter on July 24 during the Merchants' 7-inning, 14-1 victory over the Cadott Red Sox at Cadott. It was the 66th no-hitter in CRBL history and second of Eide’s eight-season career.

Managerial

• Eau Claire Rivermen player/manager Andy Niese became the CRBL’s all-time leader in managerial wins with 187, breaking the former mark of 186 held by Hall of Fame and Augusta legend Jan Krueger. With the Rivermen’s eight wins in 2022, Niese now has 188 on his CRBL career.

• Niese also has now managed 330 games over is 18 seasons as a player/manager, good for second place all-time. CRBL Hall of Famer Scott Stuckert is the clubhouse leader with an incredible 486 game managed over his venerable 27-seasons leading Bloomer.

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