Nearly a third of the way through the season, the Rhinelander Post 7 American Legion baseball team continues to get contributions from unlikely sources. On Friday night it was a key hit from a player who didn't play in the spring and a strong outing from someone who hadn't pitched in 3 1/2 weeks.
Teagan Guckenberg came off the bench to hit the go-ahead two-run double and Bryce Schickert went 6 1/3 innings in his first start of the summer as the Rebels fended off Medford 5-3 in a Great Northern Legion Conference game at Stafford Field.
Trailing 2-1 at the time and with the bases loaded in the fourth following singles by Liam Stevens and Walker Hartman, and a walk by Schickert, Rebels manager Dan Huhnstock went to the bench to bring in Guckenberg. The senior-to-be, who did not play this spring for the Hodags, came up big with a line shot to the gap in left center off Medford ace Cade Alexander to give Rhinelander a lead it would not relinquish.
Guckenberg came up again with the bases loaded in the fifth and drew an RBI walk to give Rhinelander a little extra breathing room.
"He really stepped up big for us," Huhnstock said. "He comes in with bases loaded and hits one in the gap, drives in a couple runs. What a way to earn some more playing time. He gets up with guys on base two times and is able to come through."
That was enough run support for Schickert, who was pitching for the first time since a relief outing in 3-0 loss at Medford in the WIAA playoffs back on May 28. The lefty worked around some trouble in the third and struck out six in a 94-pitch effort.
"He threw a whale of a game, but that's what we expect out of Bryce," Huhnstock said. "Bryce is a real gamer and an excellent pitcher. Whenever he takes toes the rubber, we expect good things to happen."
Schickert was looking to go the distance, but ran into trouble in the seventh as he walked Bryant Konieczny and Zach Haynes, and then allowed a single to Cade Alexander to load the bases with one out. That's when Huhnstock went to the bullpen and brought in another surprise contributor.
Brad Comer, back again after it appeared he was gone for the summer pursuing other baseball efforts, recorded the final two outs to earn the save. Comer threw a wild pitch that allowed Konieczny to score and moved the tying run to second, but he got John McMurry to foul out and then struck out Spike Alexander to end the game.
"Brad's been there, done that many times. Just like with Bryce, we expect good things when he toes the rubber," Huhnstock said.
Rhinelander jumped on Cade Alexander early, collecting a pair of hits in the opening frame. Stevens drove in Martin Hoger on a sacrifice fly to give Rhinelander a 1-0 lead.
Medford responded to take the lead in the third. Four of the team's seven hits came in that frame, including three straight by Konieczny, Haynes and Cade Alexander to lead off the inning. Spike Alexander delivered an RBI fielder's choice and Nick Retterath hit a two-out single to right to put Medford up 2-1.
"We were two very evenly-matched ball clubs through the high school season and through Legion," Huhnstock said. "It just proves out we're two pretty evenly-matched ball clubs, strong on pitching. It means every out really counts."
Following Guckenberg's big hit in the fourth, the Rebels plated two insurance runs in the fifth. Comer doubled and came around on a single by Randolph before Alexander left the mound after walking three straight batters to lead the bases with two out. Guckenberg drew a five-pitch walk off McMurry to give the Rebels a three-run lead.
Though not quite as explosive as the team's previous two outings when it racked up a combined 30 runs on 36 hits in wins over Clintonville and Northwoods, the Rebels collected seven hits on the night from seven different players.
"We had them spread out, got a couple of key sac bunts to get runners in scoring position. It worked out very well for us," Huhnstock said.
The Rebels (5-4, 3-0 GNLC) were back in action Monday against Tomahawk in a non-conference contest and will host Mosinee in a doubleheader starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Stafford Field.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
The Northwoods River News | Walker Communications, LLC 232 S. Courtney Street, Rhinelander, WI 54501 | Office (715) 365-6397 | Fax (715) 365-6361
Corporate billing office: The Lakeland Times / Lakeland Printing Inc. | P.O. Box 790, Minocqua, WI 54548 | (715) 356-5236 | Fax (715) 358-2121 Members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Community Papers, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce