The Eagle River Post 114 American Legion baseball team took on a pair of league opponents this week, attempting to avenge early-season losses to Rhinelander and Minocqua.

Beginning last Wednesday on their home field against Rhinelander, the Post 114 Eagles team pounded out 10 hits against the Rebels pitching staff, but committed a season-high five errors on defense, eventually falling in a back-and-forth 11-9 contest.

“It was really just a good game that went back and forth all night,” said manager Josh Tilley. “I thought we played well enough to win, they just had the final punch.”

Nate Hopkins got the start for Post 114 and struggled a bit early as Rhine­lander put three on the board in the first and two more in the second to get out to a 5-1 lead.

The Eagles stormed back in their half of the third however, batting around the order and plating six runs as they pulled in front 7-5.

The Rebels didn’t wait long to respond in the top of the fourth as they scored four runs to take back the lead 9-7.

Post 114 got one back in the bottom of the fifth on back-to-back singles which, after a groundout, resulted in a Brad Shepherd sacrifice fly to make it 9-8 Rhinelander.

Hopkins eventually gave way to Sam Johnson in the seventh after reaching his pitch limit, following a walk and an error which put two aboard. 

Johnson walked the first batter to load the bases and then allowed a run to cross on a wild pitch to make it 11-8 before getting out of the inning with a pair of groundouts and a pop-up.

In the bottom of the seventh Post 114 threatened as Tucker Wittkopf led off with a single before Lars Evenson singled with one out to put runners on first and second.

Wittkopf was forced out at third on a ground ball that put two aboard with two outs before Shepherd singled to plate Evenson and make it 11-9.

That’s as far as the Eagles would go as Liam Stevens got a strikeout to end the threat and the game.

Evenson had a superb day at the plate, pounding out three hits, knocking in a pair and also scoring a run in the loss. The bottom half of Tilley’s lineup produced well, as the five through nine hitters accounted for six of the 10 hits, and had five of the eight runs batted in.

“We hit the ball really well, Rhinelander just took advantage of a couple of our mistakes and that was the difference,” said Tilley.

Hopkins went six innings in taking the loss, scattering seven hits, getting charged with all 11 runs though giving seven that were earned. He walked four and struck out three.

Isaac Bixby got credit for the win, pitching 4.2 innings, allowing three runs (all earned), striking out four and walking just one.

The loss drops Post 114’s record to 4-7 overall and 1-6 in Great Northern Legion play. The team will head to Mosinee July 10 to wrap up their league season. They’ll then head to Chequamegon for a pair of five-inning non-league games prior to the Wisconsin Class A American Legion Regional tournament hosted by Mara­thon.

The double elimination-style tournament includes Eagle River, Marathon, Nekoosa, Wittenberg, Medford and Mosinee. The winner of the tourney will move into the State finals to be played the following weekend.

Loss to Minocqua

In another close league battle Post 114 came up on the short end of a 4-3 contest at home Monday against Minocqua Post 89.

The home team jumped out in front in the first with a pair of runs scored on a two-RBI single from Evenson, plating Ben Tilley and Zach Ciran who had both reached base to lead off the game.

Minocqua starter Alex Fortier settled in from there, striking out the next two batters to get out of the inning and not facing another real threat until the bottom of the sixth.

After Minocqua tied the game in the second, and took individual runs in both the third and the fifth to go up 4-2, Johnson tripled in the bottom of the sixth on a deep drive to straightaway center. He came in to score easily on a double from Shepherd to make it 4-3.

Post 114 then had a bit of bad luck as Braden Neu­bauer struck a liner that looked destined to tie the game in the sixth, but Minocqua second baseman Tyler Teichmiller snagged it and stepped on second, getting Fortier and Post 89 out of the jam and into the seventh.

After Fortier struck out Gabe LoGalbo to start the seventh, he gave way to Zack Peterson who got Tilley to pop out, and then struck out Ciran to end it.

Patrick Heck took the loss, though he threw very well in his six innings of work. He gave up four earned runs, struck out three and only walked three on 102 pitches.

Fortier got the win going 6.1 innings, allowing just seven hits, three earned runs, striking out nine and walking just two.