The Rhinelander High School baseball team under Coach Joe Waksmonski improved in their overall standings from last year, and finished second in the Great Northern Conference for 2017. Antigo stole the show for the fifth straight year and proved to be one of the Hodags' biggest conference challenges of the season. Here is a look back at Rhinelander's season including conference highlights, tough GNC losses, Hodag leaders, playoffs, and what to look forward for 2018.
Rhinelander would have their conference opener on April, 11th on the road against Medford where they won 9-4 and would advance to 4-1 on their season. RHS went 3-1 in their first four non-conference games. The game was original scheduled at home but because of several inches of snow on Stafford Field was moved to an away game.
The Hodags' rallied from being down 1-0 in the first and used 13 hits to push past the Raiders. RHS tallied five runs alone in the second frame. Pitcher Jacob DeMeyer homered in the win and Brad Comer, Alec Modrow, Brad Quade, and Easton Senoraske each finished with two hits as well in the GNC opener.
Rhinelander also had a convincing 11-1 road victory over Mosinee on April, 18th. The Indians knocked Antigo out of the WIAA playoffs later in the season, and eventually made their way to the WIAA Division 2 state tournament where they fell 6-0 to Waupun. RHS also edged Mosinee 3-2 at home on May, 11th.
RHS swept Tomahawk (13-1, 9-1) and Northland Pines (9-3, 11-1) in GNC action. But two of their closer conference contests of the season came against Mosinee and Lakeland. The Hodags would defeat the Thunderbirds twice in three days in matching 6-4 victories.
The first coming on Saturday May, 6th at home, RHS used a big fifth inning rally which included plating four runs to break a 2-2 tie and give the Hodags' the lead. From there, Rhinelander fended off the late Thunderbird rally to earn the two-run win. Jacob DeMeyer earned the win, but was forced to leave the mound after hitting 100 pitches. Eight different Hodags' also cashed in on hits as well.
The second meeting, this time against Lakeland in Minocqua resulted in the same result. This time Lakeland would take a 4-3 lead going into the fifth inning. One two outs, Modrow hit a two-run homer to center to give RHS a 5-4 lead, and provided to be the game-winning run. RHS would add an insurance run to earn another 6-4 win. Comer earned the win on the mound with four strikeouts in four innings of work.
On May, 11th Rhinelander hosted Mosinee, but that contest provided to be a completely different ball game from the first time around. This time the Hodags' used a walk-off single from Senoraske to earn the 3-2 win in 11 innings of action at Stafford Field.
Senoraske not only earned the game winning hit, but led at the plate with three total hits as well as earned the win on the mound after relieving DeMeyer.
Tough GNC Losses
Although the Hodags finished second in the GNC, they still suffered some tough conference losses including two against GNC-leader Antigo as well as one against Medford.
The biggest shock to Rhinelander was in the second time they faced the Raiders at home in the beginning of May. The first time around RHS earned a convincing 9-4, but the second time proved to be a different game with only run score in the contest, which gave Medford the win.
Raider freshman John McMurry had his first varsity start and would record the win, striking out four batters. Medford outhit RHS 8-4 on the night and would hand the Hodags' their first GNC loss of the year. The lone run of the game came in in the fourth when Kolten Hanson grounded out and allowed Taylor Shaw to score.
And Antigo would hand Rhinelander two more GNC losses within a week. The first coming on May, 16th when the Hodags' fell 7-2 on the road, the next was at home where RHS fell 7-4 on May, 22nd.
The Red Robins used three runs in the second and sixth inning and tacked on one more in the fifth to earn the five-run win. Antigo outhit Rhinelander 11-8 on the night, with the Hodags' only capitalizing on two runs, one in the second and one more in the seventh.
In the second game against the Robins, a week later Rhinelander started strong and would hold a 1-0 lead after three innings. But Antigo would storm back in the fifth to plate four runs and they would add three more in the sixth, taking advantage of four RHS errors. The Hodags' would lose by three runs, as Antigo clenched the GNC title.
RHS went 9-3 in the GNC and allowed 36 runs to finish second in the conference standings. The Hodags' averaged 6.9 per game, which also was second in the conference. RHS's defense was also second best in the GNC, allowing three runs per game while Antigo allowed 2.8 per game. Rhinelander had several individual players who also made the GNC charts.
Quade was first in the conference in RBI's, charting 17. He also finished sixth overall in total hits, tallying 16. Senoraske finished fourth in the GNC in total hits, with 19 and held a 0.450 average. Blomdahl finished in seventh in RBI's with 12, with DeMeyer not far behind with 10 RBI's. DeMeyer also tied for second in stolen bases with seven.
RHS also had seven players with 10 or more hits on the season; Modrow (11 hits), Comer (10 hits), DeMeyer (13 hits), Quade (16 hits), Senoraske (19 hits), Spaulding (14 hits), and Blomdahl (10 hits). DeMeyer and Modrow were the only two Hodags to hit homers in the GNC as well.
While Rhinelander's pitching also made the top of the GNC charts. Comer finished first in the conference with 39 strikeouts which included five GNC victories. DeMeyer finished with 34 strikeouts in the conference with Rhinelander's finishing with a 2.08 ERA, edging Antigo for first who finished with a 2.12 ERA.
The Hodags' started their 2017 playoff season with a dominating 12-1 victory over Green Bay Southwest. Rhinelander rallied for 12 runs in the first three innings to earn the 11-run win in five innings in the WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal contest held at Stafford Field.
RHS finished with seven hits on the night and would take advantage of 11 walks including two walks with the bases loaded. The Trojans used three pitchers in the contest, which also accounted for two Hodag runs on wild pitches, one more run was credited to RHS on a passed ball.
Comer earned the win on the mound, and only allowed one earned run on three hits in the playoff game. The remaining four frames, Comer only gave up one additional hit. He walked three while striking out two. Modrow led the Hodags' offense with four RBI's in the win.
And in what proved to be Rhinelander's final game of the season they fell 4-2 to the No. 3 seed, De Pere on the road at the Aurora BayCare Field. The Hodags' held an early lead, but gave up three runs in the fifth to fall by two-runs.
With a large senior class to replace form the 2017 season, the RHS baseball team still brings back plenty of experience as we look ahead to next season, including junior Brad Quade who earned the teams' MVP at the end of the year banquet after being named unanimous first team all-conference outfielder. The seven seniors RHS will have to replace for next season include Tyler Blomdahl, Oliver Ebrecht, Alec Modrow, Matt Rudolph, Easton Senoraske, Tait Spencer, and Kaden Umland.
They will also return team captain Jacob DeMeyer who was also one of four players to earn All-District 2 recognition from the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association. Brad Comer, Easton Senoraske, and Quade also earned All-district honors. Comer was second-team pitcher, DeMeyer was named second-team outfielder. While Quade and Senoraske earned honorable mention.
Other players returning who saw varsity action include Tyler Olson, Liam Stevens, Cole Spaulding, Josh Randolph, and Bryce Schickert. The future for RHS baseball looks bright, as a majority will continue playing American Legion baseball throughout the summer as they look to be a contender for a 2018 GNC title.
The Rhinelander High School baseball team, who was the No. 6 seed in the WIAA Division 1 tournament nearly upset No. 3 seed, De Pere on the road at the Aurora BayCare Field. But the Hodags would give up three runs in the fifth after holding an early lead to fall 4-2 and conclude their 2017 season.
The Hodags' offense got going early in the contest and would take a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Brad Quade led off, reaching on error. And Tyler Blomdahl had a two-run homer to left field off pitcher Matt Freeman of the Redbirds to spark the inning. Although RHS took a 2-0 advantage they only had one hit in the first five innings of the game.
De Pere would pull within one run in the bottom of the fourth and started with a single from Jordan Esser. He would then steal second, and with two outs Freeeman drove in Esser on a single. RHS would still hold a 2-1 lead, but that would be erased the next inning.
The Redbirds would rally back in the bottom of the fifth where they would plate three big runs to take the lead they would maintain until the end. Lucas Reynolds walked and Hunter Staniske was hit by a pitch. Jacob Enli singled to load the bases for De Pere. Esser would tie the game up 2-2 after a sacrifice fly, scoring Reynolds.
Jake Fietz of the Redbirds would connect on a two-RBI double that beat left fielder Josh Randolph and would plate De Pere's final two runs of the night.
Rhinelander had chances down the stretch to get back some runs, but things did not go their way. In the sixth Randolph was tagged out running to first on a high throw. Easton Senoraske and Jacob DeMeyer each followed with singles to get on base. But Brad Comer grounded out on a double play to third to end the threat.
DeMeyer took the loss for the Hodags, giving up three earned runs on six hits. He walked four, hit one batter, and struck out four in five innings of work. Freeman earned the win on the mound for De Pere an pitched 6 1/3 innings. He gave up two earned runs on three hits. Freeman walked one and struck out four.
The Hodags finished the season 17-6 overall and it marked the final game for seven seniors; Blomdahl, Senoraske, Oliver Ebrecht, Kaden Umland, Alec Modrow, Matt Rudolph, and Tait Spencer.
Rhinelander will see many of those seniors returning for American Legion baseball, which quickly begins on Monday. The Post 7 Rebels will host Merrill Post 46 at Stafford Field.
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