RHINELANDER - Solid pitching and serviceable defense haven't been consistent pieces for Rhinelander baseball this spring and summer.
On Monday night, the Rhinelander Rebels got both.
Alec Baumgartner gave up a single run on four hits in a 3-1 complete game win over Merrill on Monday night.
"It all starts with pitching. When you get a tremendous performance like we did tonight with Alec Baumgartner going the distance, and you make some plays behind him, it makes it a very enjoyable night at the ball diamond," said Rebels coach Dan Huhnstock after the game.
Rhinelander committed a pair of errors, but neither led to a run.
Huhnstock wasn't necessarily planning on using Baumgartner on the mound for the entire game. But his quick work of Merrill gave Huhnstock no choice but to leave him in.
"He was throwing very well, and it was a tight game, so we just rode him all night, and he had a very, very fine outing," the coach said of his 96 pitches.
At the plate, Rhinelander was shut down by Merrill starter Coleton Bloch early on. Merrill held a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth inning, as Bloch struck out seven in the first three frames.
"We told the guys they had to make a little adjustment at the plate. The strike zone was very consistent, but it was low. A lot of the pitches they struck out on early in the game, they were taking too many pitches that were being called strikes," Huhnstock said.
The Rebels tallied twice in the fourth to take the lead. Bryce White reached first on an error, and Lukas Kreger followed with a walk. Trevor Young knocked in White with a single that moved Kreger to third. Derek Mathison would drive home Young with a dribbler up the third base line that he beat out at first.
"Sometimes you'll hit little numbers, and they'll do the job," Huhnstock laughed.
Baumgartner scored in a similar way in the fifth. He led off with a single, was sent to second with a White single, moved to third on a Kreger sacrifice bunt, and scored on a wild pitch. That made it 3-1 Rhinelander.
Baumgartner retired the side in order in the sixth, but was forced to strand the tying run on second in the seventh to end the game.
The Rebels' six hits were spread among five batters. White had the only multi-hit game. Neither team recorded an extra-base hit.
"Everybody's up there taking their hacks. We are not a strong hitting team…but everybody is up there doing the little things to stay competitive," said Huhnstock.
Rhinelander moves within a game of .500 at 5-6. They've won five of their last seven games. A week off until their next matchup will allow some key pieces to get healthy.
"Hopefully we'll get Mitch Reinthaler back playing. Luke Michlig is hoping he can go. I know Trevor (Young) tweaked his ankle again tonight. A week off with a lot of ice sure won't hurt it," Huhnstock said.
The Rebels visit Medford on Monday.
Merrill at Rhinelander
Monday, July 1
Merrill 100 000 0 – 1 4 1
Rhinelander 000 210 x – 3 6 2
Merrill AB R H RBI
David Poophal cf 2 1 1 0
Ben Anderson dh 3 0 1 0
Alex Cordova ss 2 0 1 1
Garrett Pagel c 3 0 0 0
Tom Zuelsdorf rf 3 0 0 0
Ty Grunenwald 2b 3 0 0 0
Brian Stockowitz lf 3 0 1 0
Seth Collins 3b 3 0 0 0
Brad Juhlke 1b 1 0 0 0
-Alex Klug ph-1b 2 0 0 0
IP H R ER SO BB
Coleton Bloch, L 6 6 3 1 10 3
Rhinelander AB R H RBI
Alex Reas lf 3 0 1 0
-Jed Kuhn lf 0 0 0 0
Alec Baumgartner p 3 1 1 0
Bryce White cf 3 1 2 0
Lukas Kreger 1b 1 1 0 0
Trevor Young 3b 3 0 1 1
Luke Linsmeyer rf 3 0 0 0
Derek Mathison ss 3 0 1 1
Brandon Hess 2b 2 0 0 0
Ben Quade c 2 0 0 0
IP H R ER SO BB
Alec Baumgartner, W 7 4 1 1 4 2