Rhinelander’s Brad Comer scores on a wild pitch as teammate Liam Stevens looks on during the first inning of a Great Northern Legion Conference game against Minocqua at Lakeland Union High School Wednesday, June 12. Comer, who was released after appearing in five games for the Wisconsin Woodchucks of the Northwoods League, pitched 3 1/3 innings of relief and collected an RBI in the Rebels’ 4-3 victory over the 89ers. (Jeremy Mayo/River News)
6/15/2019 7:35:00 AM Comer strikes out six, collects RBI in return as Rebels edge Minocqua 4-3
MINOCQUA - The Rhinelander Post 7 Rebels got an unexpected addition to the roster Wednesday and immediately took advantage.
Class of 2018 graduate Brad Comer returned to the team, drove in a run and pitched 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to help the Rebels edge Minocqua 4-3 in the Great Northern Legion Conference opener at Lakeland Union High School.
Comer, who was released after appearing in five games for the Wisconsin Woodchucks in the Northwoods League following a strong freshman season at UW-Stevens Point, is still eligible for 19U American Legion baseball because his birth date falls after Jan. 1, 2000. Rebels' manager Dan Huhnstock said prior to the season that Comer had a home with the team should he need it and welcomed back the 2018 Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association all-state honoree with open arms.
"Confidence. It adds confidence in one word," Huhnstock said of Comer's return.
Comer struck out six to get the win as the game turned into a pitchers' duel after some shaky defense allowed both teams to get on the board early.
The Rebels got two in the first after Comer reached on a two-out error. Josh Randolph and Martin Hoger added singles to load the bases before Comer scored on a wild pitch. A single by Stevens gave Rhinelander a quick 2-0 lead.
Anthony Thoms walked and scored on a Keaton Brewer-Crownhart sacrifice fly for Minocqua in the bottom of the first, but Rhinelander restored a two-run lead when Alex Kubeny reached on an error and eventually came around on a Comer sacrifice fly. Stevens was hit by a pitch in the third, and moved to third on a double by Payton Johnson before scoring what proved to be the winning run on a passed ball.
Minocqua's defense came alive following the miscue. Tate Olson caught consecutive screaming line drives to third by Walker Hartman and Kubeny to end the inning, and the 89ers did not record an error the rest of the way.
"They made a few miscues early on, but boy did they play some defense later. They robbed some hard-hit balls on us," Huhnstock said.
Minocqua closed within a run in the third as Tyler Teichmiller walked ahead of RBI singles by Thoms and Brewer-Crownhart that chased Randolph from the hill after 2 2/3 innings. Comer got the Rebels out of the jam with a little good fortune. Alex Fortier reached on an error against Comer, but Brewer-Crownhart was thrown out trying to take third on the miscue to end the inning.
Comer worked around four walks over the next three innings, but did not allow a hit. With the tying run at second in the sixth, Comer struck out Brandon Zajac and Teichmiller to end the threat.
"Brad threw very well, especially considering he's seen no mound time for the (UWSP) Pointers," Huhnstock said. "He's a real gutsy competitor."
Stevens worked the seventh and picked up the save for Rhinelander. After walking Tate Olson to lead off the inning, Stevens got a fielder's choice and then a long running catch by centerfielder Martin Hoger to save extra bases before striking out Brewer-Crownhart to end the game.
Abe Laggis recorded two hits for the Rebels, who had a 6-3 edge in the hit department over the 89ers. Randolph allowed two earned runs on three hits in an abbreviated start. By throwing only 52 pitches, Randolph is eligible to return to the mound today.
Fortier went 4 2/3 innings in the loss for Minocqua. All four runs he allowed were unearned.
Rhinelander improved to 1-2 on the year. All three of its contests have been decided by a single run.
"It feels real good to win a one-run game once," Huhnstock said. "The pitchers really did a nice job and the defense, we made all the routine plays, and that's what it takes to win these games."
Rhinelander (1-2, 1-0 GNLC) opens up a nine-game homestand this weekend with the Rebel Invite at Stafford Field. Play was scheduled to begin last night with a contest against Marquette, Mich, though rain had the status of that contest in doubt as of press time. The Rebels are set to face Everest and Hancock, Mich. today and will take on Clintonville tomorrow in the final day of the five-team round robin invite.
"It's going to be a lot of good baseball being played. Hopefully we can play this type of ball, win four (games) and win our invite," Huhnstock said.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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