Rhinelander’s Dylan VanderBunt prepares to slide into home plate to score the go-ahead run in the fifth inning of a Wisconsin District 5 Little League tournament game against Antigo at Hodag Park Sunday, June 30. (Photos by Jeremy Mayo/River News)
Rhinelander’s Truman Lamers swings at a pitch during the first inning of a Wisconsin District 5 Little League tournament game against Antigo at Hodag Park Sunday, June 30.
7/2/2019 7:32:00 AM Rhinelander edges Antigo in Little League tourney opener
Despite relinquishing an early lead, the Rhinelander Little League 12U All-Stars would not be denied Sunday when District 5 tournament play opened Sunday at Hodag Park.
Dylan VanderBunt scored on a throwing error in the fifth inning and the Hodags held on for a 5-4 victory over Antigo in the first day of pool play in the preliminary round of the tournament.
Leading 4-0 after three innings, the Hodags gave the lead away by allowing a pair of runs in both the fourth and the fifth, but VanderBunt scored what proved to be the winning run after leading off the bottom of the fifth with a single and then got out of a jam in the sixth when Antigo got the tying run to third and the winning run to second.
The Hodags scored their runs without the aid of an RBI. Antigo committed four errors in the contest and three of those mistakes directly led to Rhinelander runs.
Truman Lamers doubled in the first and scored from second on a double play ball by Brody Kowieski to give Rhinelander an early lead. The Hodags tacked on three more in the third as Lamers led off with a single, got to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on a grounder by Tyler Chariton. Antigo threw back across the diamond to try to get Lamers at third, but the throw went wide and Lamers trotted home to give Rhinelander a 2-0 lead.
Kowieski and VanderBunt drew walks after that and advanced on a pair of wild pitches. The second allowed Kowieski to score. VanderBunt crossed behind him as the throw back to the plate went wide.
Antigo rallied in the fourth as a two-run single by Michael Hagerty cut the lead in half. Preston Knapkavage doubled and reached third on an error to lead off the fifth for Antigo. He scored on a Porter Nicholson grounder. Following back-to-back walks, Eli Robrecht singled in the tying run.
Johnny Turek laid down a sacrifice bunt to get VanderBunt to second with one out in the fifth. He took third on a wild pitch and scored when Antigo's throw to third sailed into left field.
VanderBunt retired the first two batters of the Antigo sixth, but walked Gunnar Roth to bring up the top of the order. Knapkavage, who recorded three of Antigo's five hits, doubled, but Roth was held at third. Nicholson grounded out to short to end the game.
Kowieski started and went 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision for Rhinelander, he allowed three runs on four hits with seven strikeouts. VanderBunt was charged with the blown save for allowing Robrecht's game-tying single in the fifth, but rallied back to earn the win. He allowed two hits and struck out one over the final 1 2/3 innings.
Both teams recorded five hits in the contest. Lamers went 2-for-2 at the top of the Rhinelander order and VanderBunt also had a two-hit day. Reid Schultz led off the second with a base hit for Rhinelander.
With eight teams competing in this year, the format for the District 5 tournament is different than in years past. Rhinelander is hosting a four-team round robin with the top two teams moving on to the double elimination rounds next week at Doepke Park in Wausau. Rhinelander and Merrill were 1-0 after the first day of pool play and were set to play each other Monday night. Merrill defeated Wausau American 7-5 Sunday.
Rhinelander is scheduled to face Wausau American this afternoon at Hodag Park. A roundup of the rest of pool play for the Hodags will appear in Saturday's River News.
Rhinelander's 10U Little League All-Star team will begin district tournament play this coming Monday in Merrill.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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