The Minocqua 89ers faced off against the Rhinelander Rebels in American Legion baseball Friday, June 28, at Stafford Field in Rhinelander.
Despite a strong pitching performance from Ryan McEnroe, the 89ers fell 4-1.
After three scoreless innings for both teams, John Aguirre was hit by a pitch with two outs in the fourth inning. He stole second base, and advanced home on a single to right-center from McEnroe. Minocqua took a 1-0 lead, but wouldn’t score again in the game.
The Rebels tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning, and would seal the game with three more runs in the fifth. A couple of errors in the inning led to Rebel runs.
McEnroe took the loss, despite throwing six innings, giving up seven hits, no walks, striking out four and giving up just one earned run.
“The last two games, Ryan has been spot-on. As we’ve talked about before, when you throw strikes, good things happen,” coach Mike Wilhelm said. “I told the kids that I sound like a broken record, but we’re close, we’re right there. We make some plays, we get a couple hits here and there, and we’re leading the baseball game instead of trailing late in the game.”
McEnroe’s RBI added to a pitching performance that was overshadowed by the loss.
“Ryan’s been really solid for us all summer, and that carried over from the JV season, where he threw well,” Wilhelm said. “There was nothing but good thoughts and words from coach Severson at the JV level, and that’s nice to see out of a young guy, because he’s going to help us out next season at the varsity level.”
The 89ers are near the halfway mark in the season. As the team moves forward, Wilhelm said there are a few things he wants the club to work on.
“I’ve talked to the team a lot about seeing pitches better at the plate. It seems like we’re guessing instead of seeing it come out of the pitcher’s hand. We need to be identifying a fastball and attacking it and identifying a curveball and either fighting it off or hitting it hard,” Wilhelm said. “We also need to clean up some of the mental errors that we have; I’m a firm believer that mental errors lead to physical errors.”
The second half of the season will allow Wilhelm to continue to work with the players, preparing them for next year’s varsity team.
“It’s nice to have things to work on, and you learn a lot more from losses,” Wilhelm said.
Minocqua faced Phillips in a double-header at Lakeland Union High School Monday, July 1. The game was after press time. The 89ers will go to Park Falls Tuesday, July 9, and to Mosinee Wednesday, July 10.
Jim Oxley may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.