Monday, June 29, 2015

Rebels Even Up Series with Dawgs

The Genesee Rebels continued their hot streak by taking a game from the North Prairie Dawgs 7-4 on Sunday. Genesee had lost to North Prairie earlier in the year and was looking forward to a chance to get even. On Sunday, they capitalized on a myriad of errors, an excellent pitching performance from Koehn, and some aggressive base running to move to 5-3 on the year and notch their 5th victory in the last 6 games. The win has the Rebels nestled comfortably into 4th place in the Southwest Division.

The atmosphere Sunday was prime for a Rebels victory as there were many festivities taking place on game day. To start things off, the Wales - Genesee Lion's Club hosted their annual "Classic Car Show" at Genesee Town Park. The show brought many motor enthusiasts and a large crowd that may not have normally attended a game. The Rebels also invited back some notable alums to take place in a modified "Old Timer's Game". The alums showed they could still swing it and throw it around. Although no roster spots were offered, retired player Jimmy Szajna was seen crying in the dugout after current Rebel Chris Elliott kept him off balance with his downright nasty curve ball. A highlight of the game was the much anticipated matchup of former Rebel and current Dawg Jason Baron facing off against retired Rebel Tim Baron. It appeared that Tim Baron still had his stuff on the mound keeping his son off balance and brushing him off the plate a few times.

Once the game started, it was all Rebels. Koehn had his good stuff working early in the game as he retired 11 of the first 12 batters he faced. The Dawgs touched him up for one run in the 5th, but other than that, it was all Koehn through the first 8 innings. The 9th inning got a little dicy as the Dawgs were going through the lineup for a 4th time. A few singles along with a few groundballs that could have been handled more effectively by the defense led to three runs with only one out. Keith showed his moxy by bearing down and getting the next two outs to end the game. It was Koehn's third start and his third complete game victory. The win brought his season record to 3-1 with a 2.41 ERA.

Offensively, the Rebels did not wait long to score and put up three runs in the first inning. Bauer led off with a Texas Leaguer over second base that found North Prairie's SS and 2B collide in a somewhat scary collision. As the ball squirted away, Bauer took advantage of no one covering second base and turned a bloop single into a bloop double. Koehn was promptly plunked with the first pitch in the middle of his back (possibly a statement pitch, however Dawg pitcher Pronschinske was quite apologetic as Koehn trudged towards first base). Elliott followed by using the friendly confines of Genesee Town Park by informing his hard hit groundball to third to hit the lip and leap straight into the air over the gawking third baseman's head. The single to left plated Bauer. Pronschinske settled in and retired Theisen and Bourassa and looked to work his way out of a jam before walking Stasik and allowing Heckenkamp to smash a hard groundball again at the Dawg third baseman who wanted no part of it bringing in both Koehn and Elliott.

The Rebels would not sore again until the 4th when Switalski laid down a two-out bunt and took advantage of  a misplay by Pronschinske to reach safely. Another Dawg error on a groundball by Bauer brought up Elliott with two outs. He smashed a single to left which brought in Swit.

Pronschinske would again settle in keeping the Rebels from crossing the plate until the wheels fell off in the 8th. Heckenkamp led off the inning with a two-fist-pump double to left and then defied gravity on a hook slide into third on a Molkentin groundball to short turning a baserunning blunder into a heads up play. With runners on first and third, Swit laid down a bunt that the Dykema, who was catching for the Dawgs, lofted gently into right field. The error scored Heckenkamp and put runners on the corners. The next pitch saw Pronschinske attempt to pick off the fleet of foot Swit at first base which he proceeded to throw to the right field fence. Swit had his PF Fliers on as he rounded second and stormed in to third. The throw from Dawg first baseman Sadowski squirted by the third baseman to the fence which saw Swit jump to his feet and sprint for home. There was a play at the plate, but Swit slid safely in scoring two runs on two North Priarie erros. The snowball fight scoring prompted a somewhat bush league helmet kick from Dykema, but no benches would clear as Bauer was restrained by the home plate ump. Like he would have done anything.... The three insurance runs scored by the Rebels proved incredibly useful as they held on the for the victory. Uncharacteristically, North Prairie committed 6 errors on the day which Genesee capitalized on.

A quick glance at the standings has Waterford sitting comfortable in first place with a record of 6-0. East Troy finds themselves in second with a record of 6-2 followed by North Prairie who has 4 wins to 2 losses. The Rebels follow in fourth. Oconomowoc seems to not be the same team they have been in the past as they have already lost 4 games on the short season. The same appears to be true for Burlington who finds themselves at 2-3 after a surprising loss to the Raiders on Sunday. Dousman, Rome, and Ixonia sit at the bottom of the standings with 1 win apiece. As of now, it appears the league is a race for second place. Waterford has shown no signs of slowing down, but with an increased level of parity in the division, any team appears poised for a victory each week.

The Rebels have a tough test when they travel to Burlington next Sunday for a double-dip. The games are scheduled for a 12pm first pitch. Always a tough game, the Rebels know they need to bring their A-game to compete with the Barons on Sunday.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Rebels Above .500

The Genesee Rebels climbed above .500 for the first time this season when they traveled to Ixonia on Sunday and took two big games from the Snappers. Excellent pitching, solid defense, and an offensive explosion led to 19 runs scored on the day. The victories vaulted the Rebels into 4th place in the Southwest Division and had them playing their best ball of the season.

In game one, Matt DeMarais took the mound and looked to get the day started with a win. After the Rebels scored 4 in the top of the first, the Snappers looked to get to DeMarais early. A leadoff single, stolen base, and bloop single over second had the Snappers on the board early. DeMarais settled in after that and retired the next three hitters to get out of the inning after allowing only one run. He then turned on cruise control and retired the 14 batters in a row, striking out 8 Snapper hitters during that stretch including striking out the side in the 5th. With the Rebels pouring on the offense, the game looked out of hand until the stars aligned and the Snappers put together a rally in the bottom of the 6th. A leadoff walk, followed by three consecutive hits turned the tables on DeMarais and the Rebels. After a brief mound visit, during which the player-coach talked to himself like a crazy person, the Rebels were out of the inning. The damage had been done however as the Snappers pushed across 4 runs in one inning. It would be too little too late for Ixonia as DeMarais retired the side in order in the 7th for the complete game victory. On the day, DeMarais struck out a career high 9 batters and only allowed 5 hits. Unfortunately for DeMarais, 4 of the hits came in the 6th inning so his ERA still needs some work!

Offensively, the Rebels let loose with a barrage of hits. The offensive stats for Genesee included 17 hits, 11 RBI's, 4 SB's, and 3BB's. The top of the order, Theisen-Koehn-Elliott combined to go 11 for 15 with 8 runs scored. Newcomer Lucas Bourassa recorded his first hit for the Rebels and 8 of the 9 starters recorded at least one hit on the day. The Rebels scored early, notching 7 runs in the first two innings, and late, plating 4 runs in the last two innings.

Game two proved to be much of the same as the Rebels handed the ball to Keith Koehn who did not disappoint as he turned in a complete game scattering 8 hits, striking out 5, and walking 1. Koehn pitched his way out of jams in the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 7th, not allowing the Snappers to get the clutch hit to push runs across the plate.

In the first, Koehn allowed the first two batters to reach before inducing a pop up and then, for the first time in recent history, a 6-4-3 double play to retire the side. In the 4th, Ixonia loaded the bases with 2 outs before Keith struck out the 8 hitter to once again escape. The 5th inning saw the bases once again full of Snappers when Koehn again ended the threat with a strike out. When asked about the near disastrous innings, Koehn smiled and said, "Danger? Ha. I laugh in the face of danger. (He then cackled like a hyena)" He actually said nothing of the sort, but it sounds like something that he might say.

Offensively, the Rebels once again struck pay dirt as they turned in 11 hits for the game. Theisen kept his strong day going in the leadoff spot by notching two more hits leading the absent Matt Bauer to research Wally Pipp. Aaron Dolan made an appearance and continued to wow with his smooth skills smacking two line drives to left field and playing a flawless short. When asked about how he maintains his skills through practice, he responded, "Practice? We be talking about practice? I mean come on. Practice? We talking about practice?" Switalski also found his swing hitting two ground ball singles through the hole and almost going yard. Swit seems to be finding his swing just in time to trade in his bat and glove for a spiffy uniform and ice cream scoop.

The day brought two much needed wins to the Rebels who now find themselves sitting in 4th place. They return to action on Sunday with a home game against the Dawgs. It will prove to be a big game for both North Prairie and Genesee as their previous matchup was played evenly until the Dawgs pulled away late in the game. First pitch is scheduled for 1:30pm in Genesee. There will be an "old timer's game" from 11:00am - 12:00pm. Any previous players for the Rebels or Land O Lakes teams in general are encouraged to come out and show they still have it. The structure of the game will depend on who and how many show up. Any volunteers to catch? Otherwise, the Rebels will throw out some young guys to fill in the spots. Come on out for a great day of Rebel baseball and Classic Cars (the Wales - Genesee Lion's Club is hosting a Class Car show from 10-4 on Sunday as well.)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

When The Dust Settles....

The Genesee Rebels welcomed the first bye-week of the season with open arms last Sunday, and they picked a perfect Sunday to have off. While the Rebels were tucked away in their beds, all three other Southwest Division games that were scheduled for Sunday were rained out. As the rest of the league struggles to schedule make up games, the Rebels are able to focus on more important things like how to get a few more wins!

After the first third of the season, the Rebels find themselves in 6th place in the Southwest Division. This doesn't sound like the best of news, but considering how the Rebels played and the team they were able to field for some of the first few games, a record of 2-3 isn't all that bad. The Rebels have shown that they are capable of playing good baseball, but they just need to do it on a regular basis.

So far, the season has been a bit streaky. With back-to-back losses to open the campaign, Genesee needed to get their act together quickly. Two games against East Troy and Oconomowoc did not look to be the easiest way to do so, however, the Rebels were able to pull off two monumental victories to claw back to .500 on the year. Only Dousman stood in the way of a winning record through the first third of the season. Dousman, however, had other plans, as their bats woke up in a big way as the Rebels pitching couldn't keep the Frogs from crossing home plate.

When the dust settled from the first third of the season, the Rebels have begun to learn what kind of team they are. Uncharacteristically, the Rebels have allowed 40 runs through the first 5 games of the season. The good news is, they know this will not continue as they welcome back a few arms who will definitely help them out on the mound for the next part of the season. On the flip side, the Rebels have scored 25 runs on the year for an average of 5 per game. On most Sundays, that SHOULD be enough. Most Sundays apparently did not fall during the first portion of the season.

After a disappointing start to the season, the Rebels are feeling good. It might be strange to think that a team could be feeling good with a 2-3 record, but they know they faced a tough schedule during the first 5 games and feel confident moving forward. Their goal over the next 6 games is to go 4-2 which would bring their overall record to 6-5 heading into the home stretch of the season. It will be challenging with a double-dip against Burlington and home games against North Prairie and Oconomowoc, but if the Rebels can play consistent ball, it is definitely doable.

So far, Waterford and North Prairie sit atop the standings, each team with 0 L's in the loss column. Waterford continues to hit the crap out of the ball while North Prairie brings a youthful and balanced approach to the game. East Troy, Oconomowoc, and Burlington sit 2-5 in the standings, but Burlington only has 2 games under their belt thus far. Their schedule will pick up during the next few weeks to get their games in. After Genesee, Dousman, Ixonia, and Rome round out the bottom of the standings. The division has shown that most teams can compete with anyone on any given Sunday.

The Rebels are back in action on Sunday when they travel to Ixonia for a Father's Day double-header scheduled for 12pm first pitch.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Genesee Topples the Titans

For the second week in a row, the Genesee Rebels entered a Land O Lakes game as the underdog, and for the second week in a row, they were able to pull out a victory. This last Sunday, the rebels traveled to Oconomowoc to take on the 2-0 Titans and walked away with a 7-2 victory. The win handed the Titans their first loss of the season and brought the Rebels up to a .500 record on the season.

The Rebels took advantage of some early Oconomowoc fielding errors to score get on the board in the top of the first. With two outs and runners on first and second, the Titans looked to escape an early jam but a costly error by the third baseman allowed Keith Koehn to score the first run of the inning. Two pitches later, a wild pitch made its way to the backstop which brought in Chris Elliott. When the dust cleared, the Rebels had scored two runs on no hits.

Those two runs would prove to be nearly enough for the entire game as Keith Koehn took the mound for his first start of the season and was magnificent. He kept the usually stout Oconomowoc hitters off balance and finished the day with a complete game victory. No Titan crossed the plate until a 2-run 8th inning, but that would be all they could muster. Koehn finished with 5 Ks, 4 BBs, and allowed 9 hits on the day.

The Rebels defense would prove to be solid enough behind him to get the job done. Rookie Brandon Molkentin had his first start at Short and made quite a few nice plays on the day. Left Fielder Chris Theissen let the cannon loose in the bottom of the 6th when he threw out Aaron Benz at the plate. On the play, Nick Heckenkamp made a nice play to secure the throw off a wicked hop and slap the tag down before Benz crossed the plate. While it appeared to be a good call from the Rebels vantage point, the Titans were none too happy about it and the fans were almost treated to their first ejection of the year.

The defense came up huge again in the bottom of the 8th as the Titans had a bit of a rally going when Leslie drove a two-out hit to left field that plated Pierce. Winkelman was held up coming around third but the trail runner apparently didn't get that signal and was caught in a run down to end the inning and the threat. It was just another usual 7-2-6 put out.

The Rebels bats received a much needed lift from the addition of Nelson Heckenkamp who made his first start of the year in Right Field. Nelson finished the day going 3 for 4 with 2 singles, 1 double, 1 rbi, and 2 runs scored. His performance overshadowed that of his older Nick who had a measly 1 hit, 1 rbi, and 2 runs scored. The Rebels were treated to a double-dip of fist pumps as both Heckenkamps have no reservations about showing their enthusiasm!

In a nice turn of events for the Rebels, it was the bottom of their order who sealed the deal on the day. The bottom half was responsible for 5 runs and 5 hits on the day. Matt Bauer and Chris Elliott continued their respective hit streaks by each tallying a single on the day as well. On a lesser note, the Rebels did strike out 8 times on the day which brings their season total to 33 Ks on the year as they continue to have a hard time finding hits as they are batting .213 as a team.

On a good note, they are hitting .213 as a team and have 2 victories against 2 very good ball clubs in the East Troy Express and the Oconomowoc Titans. As their bats find their grooves, there is no telling what damage the Rebels will bring to their opposition.

The Rebels return to action on Sunday when they take on the Dousman Frogs. First pitch is scheduled for 1:30pm on Sunday.

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