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June 16, 2019

Rhinelander’s Abe Laggis prepares to swing at a pitch during the fifth inning of a non-conference baseball game against Abbotsford/Colby at Stafford Field Monday, May 13. Laggis hit a triple on the play. He also hit what turned out to be the game-winning two-run single in the third as the Hodags defeated the Falcons, 6-4. (Photos by Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
Rhinelander’s Abe Laggis prepares to swing at a pitch during the fifth inning of a non-conference baseball game against Abbotsford/Colby at Stafford Field Monday, May 13. Laggis hit a triple on the play. He also hit what turned out to be the game-winning two-run single in the third as the Hodags defeated the Falcons, 6-4. (Photos by Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
Rhinelander’s Bryce Schickert fields a throw to first during the fifth inning of a non-conference baseball game against Abbotsford/Colby at Stafford Field Monday, May 13. Schickert turned two key double plays for the Hodags and pitched the final two innings to close out Rhinelander’s 6-4 victory.
Rhinelander’s Bryce Schickert fields a throw to first during the fifth inning of a non-conference baseball game against Abbotsford/Colby at Stafford Field Monday, May 13. Schickert turned two key double plays for the Hodags and pitched the final two innings to close out Rhinelander’s 6-4 victory.
5/16/2019 7:31:00 AM
Bats, defense carry Hodags past Abby/Colby

The Rhinelander High School baseball team pounded out the hits Monday afternoon, and a got a couple of big defensive plays at the right time, to earn a key non-conference victory.

Abe Laggis broke open a 3-3 tie with a two-run single in the third and Bryce Schickert turned two dazzling double plays to help the Hodags defeat Abbotsford/Colby 6-4 at Stafford Field.

Rhinelander collected 13 hits in the game and won despite leaving 11 men on base in a contest that was one final win against a regional opponent for the Hodags before the WIAA playoff seeding meeting that was set to take place Wednesday evening.

"It was a really well played baseball game," Hodag coach Joe Waksmonski said. "Abbotsford/Colby played great defensively. They did not have a single error and their outfield made two or three outstanding plays on line drives we hit out there. We scored six runs on 13 hits and we had to earn all those runs. They did not give us very many opportunities."

Schickert pitched the final two innings to get the save, and make a winner out of Martin Hoger (1-2). Schickert inherited a two-on, no-out jam when he relieved Hoger in the sixth. Following a Dylan Geiger RBI single that made the score 6-4, he fielded a sharply hit ground ball by Brandon Kilty to turn a double play and struck out Chance Clement to get out of the jam.

It was the second time Schickert turned a double play off Kilty in the game. With runners at the corners and nobody out in the fourth, Kilty hit a sinking liner to first that Schickert caught near his shoelaces.

The Hodag senior stepped on the bag at first for the second out. His throw to third for a potential triple play was ruled not in time, but Hoger got Clement to ground out to short on the next pitch to get out of the jam.

"Those were both huge plays - and I thought he almost had a triple play there too (in the fourth) to be honest with you," Waksmonski said. "But the next pitch we were able to get out and not give up anything. Both plays, defensively, by Bryce were great plays and obviously they were very needed."

The Hodags took the lead on a Josh Randolph RBI single to score Danny Zuiker in the first, but the Falcons rallied back for two in the second off back-to-back two-out hits by Caden Decker and Geiger to take the lead, and added a run in the third with Aaron Schmeiser singled to score Clement.

Abbotsford/Colby's lead was short-lived, however, as seven of the first eight batters for Rhinelander reached safely in the bottom of the inning. Randolph tied it on a two-run single that scored Eric Grulke and Hoger. A single by Schickert and a Payton Johnson walk loaded the bases for Abe Laggis, who hit a single to right past a drawn in infield to put Rhinelander ahead 5-3.

Laggis led off with a triple to start the fifth inning and scored on a Walker Hartman sacrifice fly to give the Hodags some extra insurance.

"Abe Laggis had a really nice day at the plate," Waksmonski said of the junior outfielder who entered the game hitting only .200 on the season. "We need to get him going. He's a talented hitter. Especially after he hit that triple, you can see he's kind of getting his stroke back. He's keeping his weight back. He got a nice pitch to drive and drove it."

Hoger allowed four runs on seven hits with five strikeouts over five-plus innings for Rhinelander. Schickert retired the final five batters he faced to earn his first save of the season.

"Martin threw all right. He battled. There were a couple of innings there where he was struggling but he was able to pull through and get them out," Waksmonski said. "(Bryce) did a great job throwing strikes, but he definitely threw well, was around the zone and overmatched their hitters a little bit."

Hoger led the Rhinelander offense with three hits on the day. Grulke, Randolph and Laggis each collected two hits in the game.

Schmeiser took the loss for Abbotsford/Colby, allowing six runs on 13 hits over five innings. Geiger worked around two walks for the Falcons in a scoreless sixth.

Rhinelander closes out GNC play this afternoon against Tomahawk in a doubleheader at Stafford Field. The Hodags could still tie for third in the GNC should they sweep the twinbill and Mosinee drop both of its games against Antigo today.

"Those are two very important games," Waksmonski said. "If we win both games we're 7-5 and we're above .500 (in the conference). We talked a little bit after the game, we can't take teams lightly. We have to give them our best shot right away for 21 outs. Obviously, it's a doubleheader on Thursday, so that's 42 outs we've got to get."

Jeremy Mayo may be reached at jeremy@rivernewsonline.com.





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