Danny Zuiker slides safely into home following an RBI single by Teagan Guckenberg during the sixth inning of an American Legion baseball game between Rhinelander and Clintonville at Olin Park in Clintonville Sunday, July 14. Rhinelander scored three times in the sixth inning and defeated Clintonville, 6-3. (Photos by Jeremy Mayo/River News)
Joe Schneider singles during the sixth inning of an American Legion baseball game between Rhinelander and Clintonville at Olin Park in Clintonville Sunday, July 14. Schneider went 3-for-4 in the contest, one of five Rebels who recorded multi-hit days in Rhinelander’s 6-3 win.
7/16/2019 7:30:00 AM Rebels rally to defeat Clintonville 6-3 in regular season finale
CLINTONVILLE - After stranding 27 runners in their previous two contests, the Rhinelander Post 7 Rebels finally got some clutch hits Sunday night in their final regular season game.
Danny Zuiker had three hits, including the go-ahead double in the sixth, as the Rebels came from behind to defeat Clintonville Post 63 6-3 Sunday evening at Olin Park.
An error opened the door for the Diamond Cats to score three times in the fourth to take the lead, but the Rebels got back to within one run in the fifth and took the lead during a three-run sixth inning to close the regular season 14-7 overall.
Though the Rebels stranded nine men on base Sunday night, they scored five of their six runs with two outs in an inning.
"They came through tonight," Rebels manager Dan Huhnstock said. "We gave them enough opportunities and they started to come through. Hopefully, that will carry on into the regional tournament."
The Rebels were still down 3-2 with two out in the sixth when Clintonville starter Brock Smejkal uncorked a wild pitch into the expansive foul territory behind home plate. Catcher Dylan Danforth had trouble locating the ball initially, allowing Joe Schneider to score the tying run from second base. Two pitches later, Zuiker found the gap in left center for the second time in the contest to plate Alex Kubeny and give the Rebels a 4-3 lead. Teagan Guckenberg followed with an RBI single that extended the lead to two.
Rhinelander got one more insurance run in the seventh on a two-out base hit from Alex Kubeny that scored Walker Hartman.
"He played flawless right field tonight and came up with a clutch hit for that insurance run," Huhnstock said of Kubeny's night.
The comeback made a winner out of Hartman, who allowed only one hit in three innings of scoreless relief. His biggest jam came with the Rebels still trailing 3-2 in the fifth as Colton Kluth and Presley Rosenow executed a double steal of third and second to give the Diamond Cats two runners in scoring position with only one out. Kluth was unable to tag and held at third following a Klay Finger flyout to right and Hartman got Smejkal to fly out to right to end the threat.
Hartman walked three and struck out two in the victory. He replaced Martin Hoger, who gave up three runs, all unearned, following a leadoff error in the fourth. Hoger gave up four hits, walked two and struck out seven in a starting effort for Rhinelander.
"Martin gave it what he had. I think he was running out of gas a little bit and Walker came in and did what we expect him to do now and in the future, throw some good innings for us - whether it's out of the bullpen or starting," Huhnstock said.
Rhinelander led 1-0 after Schneider singled in the top of the fourth to score Hartman, but Rosenow led things off in the bottom of the fourth reaching on a leadoff error to third. He got to third on a wild pitch and scored when Smejkal successfully laid down a bunt on a suicide squeeze play. The inning continued and a Trent Vollmer double scored Blake Hopp to give Clintonville a 2-1 lead. Vollmer scored when Jared Cartright's single was bobbled in the outfield.
Zuiker led off the fifth with a double and was stranded there until Jacob Dreifuerst laced a two-out double down the left field line to trim Clintonville's lead to one.
Rhinelander pounded out 14 hits against Smejkal, who went the distance for the Diamond Cats, allowing six earned runs with a walk and four strikeouts. Zuiker and Schneider each had three-hit days at the plate. The middle three in Rhinelander's order - Dreifuerst, Hartman and Johnson - had two hits each.
"Everybody made contributions both at the plate and out in the field."
Rhinelander now prepares for Class AA Regional play this Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Antigo. The Rebels take on Pulaski to start the four-team double-elimination tournament Friday afternoon. Shawano and Antigo are the other teams in the bracket vying for one spot in the State AA tournament July 26-30 in Mauston.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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