Joe Schneider attempts to get out of the way of an inside curveball during an exhibition baseball game between Rhinelander and Mosinee at Stafford Field Wednesday, June 26. Mosinee forfeited a scheduled Great Northern Legion Conference doubleheader because it had only eight players, but borrowed Schneider to catch for the team as it played two exhibition games against the Rebels. (Photos by Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
Rhinelander’s Isaac Bixby jumps out of the way of a throw to first base during an exhibition baseball game against Mosinee at Stafford Field Wednesday, June 26.
6/29/2019 7:30:00 AM Something out of nothing After receiving two forfeits, Rebels beat Mosinee in exhibition doubleheader
In the grand scheme of things, the Rhinelander Post 7 Rebels played 14 innings of baseball Wednesday that carried no meaning in the standings, yet meant plenty in a summer of player development.
The Rebels were awarded a pair of forfeit wins in the Great Northern Legion Conference as Mosinee arrived at Stafford Field with only eight players. The teams decided to play two exhibition games, and Rhinelander won anyway, sweeping the twinbill 5-4 and 13-8.
Mosinee was in need of a catcher to complete its nine-man lineup, so Rhinelander lent it one, sophomore-to-be Joe Schneider. He wore the Rebels' alternate uniform and played against his own teammates.
The move allowed both teams to get something out of what would have otherwise been a lost night.
"It's always nice to get 14 innings of baseball in on any given night. It's good for the team, good for the whole program," Rebels manager Dan Huhnstock said. "It was a beautiful night for baseball. There's no reason why we shouldn't play. It was showing good sportsmanship, both on Mosinee's part and our part, to make sure the kids had opportunities."
After Mosinee scored twice in the top of the third in Game 1, Rhinelander took the lead for good with a four-run bottom half of the frame. The Rebels loaded the bases with nobody out in the inning. Alex Kubeny and Jesse Mahner singled before Quinn Lamers reached when Mosinee misplayed his sacrifice bunt attempt. Two batters later, Josh Randolph hit a two-run single to right to tie it and Liam Stevens drove in the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly to deep center. Walker Hartman followed with an RBI single to give Rhinelander a 4-2 lead.
Mosinee got a run back in the fourth after Trenton Dorn singled and scored on a Josh Hallas grounder and nearly tied the game in the top of the fifth. With Trevor Garski on third and nobody out, Drake Good hit a grounder to third. Garski made a break for the plate as Mahner threw to first but Stevens was able to make the catch at first and fire back to the plate in time for Walker Hartman to tag out Garski for a key double play.
Randolph, who had three hits in the first game, doubled to lead off the fifth and scored on a Hartman grounder.
Rhinelander raced out to a 6-2 lead in Game 2 but gave it all-back in an error-aided fourth. After a two-out error allowed two runners to score, Grod hit an RBI single and Matt Dudei followed with a two-run base hit to put Mosinee ahead 7-6.
Rhinelander got all five runs back in the sixth thanks in part to some errant Mosinee play. The tying run scored on a bizarre play. With runners at the corners, Stevens attempted to take off to second and almost had the stolen base before putting the breaks on and retreating back to first after, what he claimed, hearing someone yell foul. As Mosinee tried to catch Stevens in a rundown, Randolph made a break from third to the plate and scored. Stevens made it back to first safely.
Three straight walks loaded the bases and back-to-back two-run singles by Lamers and Abe Laggis put Rhinelander ahead 11-6.
Sticking to the plan
Instead of treating the games as glorified scrimmages and running several pitchers to the mound for some work, Rhinelander stuck to the plan it would have employed had the games counted, with Randolph going the distance in Game 1 and Hoger tossing a complete game in the nightcap.
"We still want to play and win games," Huhnstock said. "Those guys need to get their work in. We had a game plan for the week and we didn't deviate from it at all."
Randolph allowed four runs, one earned, on seven innings pitched with three strikeouts. He reached the maximum 105-pitch threshold during Mosinee's final at-bat, and got Eli Miland to fly out to end the contest.
Hoger was also flirting with the 105-pitch limit with one on and one out in the seventh. After Dorn took off from second in an attempt to steal third, Hallas hit a fly to shallow center that Teagan Guckenberg flagged down and threw to second to complete a game-ending double play.
Hoger allowed eight runs on seven hits with four strikeouts. He needed 101 pitches for his complete game.
Schneider took his role of replacement player to heart, catching all 14 innings for Mosinee, and doing some damage against his Rhinelander teammates at the plate.
Schneider went 2-for-2 in Game 1. After getting hit by a pitch by Randolph to lead off the third inning, he survived a missed fielder's choice play at second and came around to score on an errant pickoff play. He singled in the fourth and hit an RBI double in the sixth that cut the Rebels' lead to 5-4.
Schneider went 1-for-4 in Game 2, doubling and scoring a run in the first. He reached on a two-out error in the fourth that allowed two runs to score and sparked Mosinee's five-run rally.
"Joe did a very, very nice job catching and hitting for them. It was a good experience and he got to hit against some of our better pitchers," Huhnstock said.
Rhinelander swept the games despite committing 10 errors. The Rebels had six errors in the first game, including three on botched pickoff attempts from Randolph to first. The Rhinelander senior atoned for the gaffes, however. After Garski reached on an error to lead off the seventh, Randolph erased the potential tying run on a pickoff play at first.
Rhinelander committed four more errors in Game 2. Only one of the eight runs Hoger allowed in the second contest was earned.
"We were a little sloppy," Huhnstock said. "When we started, coming out of the gates the kids were like, 'Oh, it's a little warm. Oh well, the games don't mean anything.' But once you get out there and the competitive juices get flowing, the intensity picked up."
At times Wednesday the ping of composite bats was replaced by the old-school crack of wood as the Rebels broke out two of the wooden bats in its arsenal. Randolph collected all three of his hits in Game 1 with a wooden bat. Stevens' bunt single in Game 2 came with a wooden bat. Both Hartman's triple and Dreifuerst's double in the seventh came with lumber in hand.
"I think the guys had a lot of fun, using the wood bat and having a lot of fun up at the plate tonight," Huhnstock said.
Rhinelander ventured on the road for the first time since June 12 Friday night as it played Merrill in a non-conference contest at Athletic Park that concluded after deadline.
The Rebels are back home Monday to begin their final week of GNLC play. Rhinelander travels to Northwoods this coming Wednesday and will play Medford in Merrill next Friday to kick off the Merrill Invite.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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