The Rhinelander High School baseball team suffered their first loss of the season after a hot start going 9-0. The Hodags hosted a doubleheader on Monday at Stafford field and started strong and routed the Thunderbirds 10-0 in Game 1. But the tides changed in Game 2 and RHS fell 5-4 to split the series
The Hodags were patient at the plate and collected seven hits in the first game and would take advantage of Lakeland errors to earn the 10-0 mercy rule victory in the fifth. Rhinelander was also solid at the mound, where Bryce Schickert pitched all five innings and scattered two hits and struck out five to earn the win.
Rhinelander plated two runs on three hits in the first frame. Like several of their games this season, RHS rallied on two outs. Senior Brad Comer connected on an RBI double to spark the offense and fellow senior Owen White followed with an RBI single to left to give the Hodags a 2-0 lead.
The only offensive threat from Lakeland came in the third frame. Austin Wanty walked and Michael Campbell singled to left. Wanty and Campbell advanced to second and third after a wild pitch. Parker Biertzer walked to load the bases on two outs, but Schickert got out of the jam after forcing Caleb Menzia to pop out.
RHS would take advantage of Lakeland errors in the fifth and would plate eight more runs to end the game via mercy rule. Abe Laggis singled to left and Cole Spaulding drilled a stand up double to right center. Brad Quade loaded the bases after being hit by a pitch. Jacob DeMeyer connected on a two-run single to give the Hodags’ a 4-0 lead.
Comer was also hit by a pitch to get on base and White hit a double to left center. Josh Randolph’s shallow hit to right field was dropped which allowed Comer to score. Schickert continued with an RBI single to right center to give RHS a 7-0 advantage. A throwing error to pick off a steal at second allowed another run in before Spaulding's pop-up to shallow left was dropped after a collision between Campbell and Tate Olson in the outfield which ended the game 10-0.Game 2
Rhinelander ran out of steam in the second game and did not come out with the same energy they had in the first game. Lakeland strung together some hits on two-outs late in the fifth and sixth frame and fended off a late Hodag rally to earn the one-run win.
Lakeland got on board first after Menzia connected an RBI single to right center. But Rhinelander’s defense prevented further damage in the frame after picking off a pinch runner at first base.
The Hodags pushed back in the third and would tie the game up 1-1. Schickert started with a stand up double to left center. Spaulding would then reach on a fielder's choice and Quade's singled to right. DeMeyer drilled an RBI double to the corner of left field to put RHS on the board. Comer was intentionally walked to load the bases, but all three batters were stranded after a strikeout to end the threat.
The Thunderbirds added a run in the 5th to go back ahead on two outs. Biertzer and Menzia both walked to start to chase Josh Randolph off the mound. Liam Stevens came in for relief and would give up an RBI double to Gunnar Weitz, as Lakeland went up 2-1.
In the sixth after back-to-back flyouts, the Thunderbirds would plate three more runs to take a four-run lead. Keegan McJoynt walked and Campbell followed with an RBI single to center. Jamie Slavisnky continued the momentum at the plate and had an RBI triple to the right center gap. And Biertzer capped off the scoring which proved to be just enough with an RBI single to left. Comer came in to relieve Stevens on the mound and was able to get out of the inning after forcing Weitz to ground out.
Rhinelander would rally back with three runs in the seventh but couldn’t drive in the tying run. Laggis started with a single to right and Spaulding reached on a fielder’s choice. And Quade was able to drive in Spaulding with an RBI double to the left center gap. DeMeyer fouled suit and also connected on a double to drive in Quade and pull RHS within two runs. Comer singled to bring in DeMeyer, but that would be the final run as Rhinelander fell one run short and suffered their first loss of the year.
Wanty earned the win for Lakeland and allowed nine hits and had three walks and two strikeouts. Randolph pitched 4 2/3 inning in Game 2 while Stevens took the loss pitching in relief.
Rhinelander now sits a half a game behind Great Northern Conference rival Antigo in the standings. The Hodags will be on the road Thursday for another conference doubleheader at Mosinee.