The Rhinelander High School baseball team swept a doubleheader against Lakeland on the road on Thursday night. First the Hodags jumped out to a big lead in the first game and fend off the Thunderbirds to take the first game 12-8. In the second contest RHS blanked Lakeland 8-0 to complete the sweep.
RHS plated six big runs in the first frame and added four more in the seventh to earn the four-run victory. The Hodags took longer to get their big inning in the second game and scored five runs in the fifth inning to cruise to a 8-0 win. Senior Josh Randolph led the way for RHS and recorded a pair of home runs on the day and he also earned the shutout win pitching and only gave up three hits.Game 1
Danny Zuiker led of with a stand up double left and Abe Laggis followed with a walk. Eric Grulke hit into a fielder's choice to put runners on the corners. Junior Payton Johnson reached on error when pitcher Parker Biertzer was unable to field a slow roller to the left the mound with two outs and that's when the Hodags took advantage and had the most damage at the plate.
Randolph started the scoring with a two-RBI double down the left field line. Fellow senior Liam Stevens reached on a hard infield hit deep to short to score another run. And senior Bryce Schickert kept the momentum going with a three-run shot to left to put the Hodags ahead 6-0.
The Thunderbirds got two runs back in the bottom of the inning and added one more in the second to pull back within three runs. Both teams plated one run in the fourth and four runs in the seventh but the Hodags first inning rally was enough to hold on for the win.
In the third Randolph connected on his first homer of the night, a solo shot off Biertzer. And Martin Hoger had a sacrifice fly in the fourth to put the Hodags ahead 8-4.
Rhinelander would plate their final four runs of the night in the final frame. Laggis led off with a single to right and Hoger got on a base with an infield single to short. Grulke followed with a bunt single to load the bases. Randolph was hit by a pitch which allowed a run to score and Stevens capped off the frame with a double to drive in three runs. RHS held on to win 12-8.
Sophomore Isaac Bixby earned the win for the Hodags at the mound and pitched the first six innings and gave up four earned runs on 10 hits. Stevens closed the game, allowing four runs but only one earned. Randolph, Schickert, and Stevens would combine for seven hits in the win and accounted for 11 of the 12 RBI's. Game 2
The second game of the series proved to be a different story as the Hodags only scored one run until the fifth frame. RHS had a late rally in the fifth and combined with the defense and pitcher Randolph, they were able to keep Lakeland off the board.
Zuiker was able to capitalize on an error in the first inning, but that proved to be the only run both teams would score in the first four frames.
In the fifth Zuiker walked and Laggis reached on error. Hoger followed with an RBI single to get the ball rolling. Grulke continued with a line drive shot at pitcher Keegan McJoynt that drove in Zuiker. And two batters later Stevens singled in another run to put RHS up 4-0. It also chased McJoynt from the mound.
Things didn't seem to get better for the Thunderbirds on the mound after they brought in Bryce Gilbertson who did not record an out in the three batters he faced. Gilbertson was then pulled after he walked Bixby with the basesload to give up another run. And Randolph concluded the scoring and final dagger in the sixth, a two-run homer and RHS would earn the 8-0 shutout.
Lakeland would collect a hit off Randolph in the first three frames but from the fourth inning on only managed to get one person on base. Randolph finished with five strikeouts and only walked one.
RHS advanced to 4-2 in the Great Northern Conference standings with the doubleheader sweep and are 6-2 overall. Rhinelander will have a tough week ahead of them even after cancelling their non-conference game against Wausau East on Monday. On Tuesday the Hodags will host Mosinee for a doubleheader and then will travel to Antigo for another on Thursday. The Robins are 6-0 and Indians are 6-2 in the conference. First pitch is set for 4:00PM at Stafford Field.