Rhinelander’s Abe Laggis hits an RBI single during the fourth inning of a Great Northern Legion Conference baseball game against Minocqua at Stafford Field Monday, July 1. Laggis’ hit capped off a seven-run fourth for the Rebels and Rhinelander went on to win the game, 11-4. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
7/3/2019 7:30:00 AM Lucky 7s Rebels score seven in the fourth, down Minocqua 11-4
Seven was the lucky number for the Rhinelander Rebels Monday night.
Not only is it the team's American Legion Post number, it represented the number of runs the team scored in the fourth inning as it defeated Minocqua 11-4 in Great Northern Legion Conference play at Stafford Field.
Seven is also the number of free bases the Rebels drew in the decisive inning through a combination of walks and hit batsmen. The first seven batters who reached base scored in the frame as Rhinelander ran its winning streak to eight overall games and moved to 6-0 in the GNLC.
"It wasn't the prettiest baseball tonight, but we found a way to get the W," Rebels manager Dan Huhnstock said.
Already at 70 pitches through three innings, Rhinelander was able to chase Minocqua starter Keegan McJoynt from the hill in the fourth as he allowed the first five batters to reach base. Joe Schneider drew a walk, Abe Laggis was hit by a pitch and Martin Hoger laid down a bunt single to load the bases. Jacob Dreifuerst then drew an RBI walk before Laggis scored on a passed ball and Hoger crossed on a wild pitch. Liam Stevens walked on four straight pitches to end McJoynt's outing on the mound.
Huhnstock said being selective at the plate against McJoynt was the key to Rhinelander's success.
"He had a hard time being around the plate. We just gave him enough rope that he put guys on for us," Huhnstock said.
Reliever Tim Crisco did not fare much better, plunking the first batter he faced, Walker Hartman. Payton Johnson drew a bases-loaded walk before Teagan Guckenberg laced a two-run single to left. Laggis, in his second plate appearance of the inning, singled to deep center to give Rhinelander an 11-2 lead before a double play ball by Hoger ended the frame.
Rhinelander broke a 1-1 tie in the third with a trio of runs. Hartman's two-run double down the right field line was the key hit in that inning. He later scored on a wild pitch to give Rhinelander a 4-1 lead.
The Rebels were unable to put Minocqua away via the 10-run rule. After a scoreless fifth, the 89ers scored twice in the sixth. Hoger walked back-to-back batters to end his start on the mound after 5 1/3 innings.
"I think he was have a little trouble with focus there," Huhnstock said of Hoger, who walked five and struck out five. "He'd throw one inning real great and the next he'd be off a little bit. That will happen. It's the middle of summer. It's hot and humid out there tonight. It could have been having a lead where he should have been pounding the zone and letting the defense work."
Both walks eventually came around to score as Chuck Burgess drew a basea-loaded walk and Anthony Thoms hit an RBI fielder's choice off reliever Liam Stevens.
Minocqua struck first in the game as Tate Olson singled in the opening frame, took second on a wild pitch and then scored when Crisco's base hit was misplayed by Laggis in right field. Rhinelander responded in the bottom of the frame as Laggis walked and scored on a two-out double by Stevens.
Rhinelander outhit Minocqua 6-5 in the contest. Guckenberg had a two-hit night to lead the Rebel offense. Crisco recorded two hits for Minocqua. McJoynt allowed nine runs on four hits over three-plus innings in defeat.
The rivalry between the two teams reached a boil after the game when there was a skirmish in the handshake line. Coaches from both teams quickly broke up the hostility, which appeared to be limited to two players.
The umpires ejected Rhinelander's Jesse Mahner and McJoynt from Minocqua for their roles in the incident.
"It is a rivalry but it was totally unacceptable behavior by players from both teams. That has no place in baseball," Huhnstock said.
Tourney matchup announced
Rhinelander's Class AA regional will look a little different this year as brackets for the tournament were announced Monday.
Rhinelander is in a four-team bracket that includes Antigo, Shawano and newcomer Pulaski. The tournament will be held July 19-21 at Kretz Bros. Park in Antigo. Rhinelander drew Pulaski in the opening game of the double-elimination tournament.
A busy week for the Rebels continues. Rhinelander can clinch a share of the GNLC title tonight as it plays Northwoods in Eagle River. The Rebels sat 1 1/2 games up on Medford (4-1) in the GNLC standings after Monday's play. Medford was scheduled to host Minocqua Tuesday night.
Rhinelander and Medford play each other Friday night to kick off the Merrill Invitational. Merrill, Holmen and Madison are the three other teams in the round-robin tournament.
"We have a lot of baseball ahead of us against a lot of good, quality opponents. It's going to be an exciting weekend of baseball in the Northwoods," Huhnstock said.
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