River Bandits seeing mixed results
BY MIKE WARREN
MARSHFIELD – The Pittsville River Bandits have had an up-and-down summer so far.
Pittsville was off to a 3-4 start, following a 6-4 loss to Wisconsin Rapids July 5, in a non-Dairyland League game. The River Bandits were outhit 9-8, and Pittsville committed two costly errors. Leading hitters for Pittsville were Evan Haley, who went 2-for-5 with a single, a triple, 2 runs scored and a stolen base, and Sam Schwanebeck, who was 2-for-4 with two singles.
“We’ve won our last two, so we’ve been playing pretty well as of late,” Manager Justin Rayburn told WOSQ’s Gene DeLisio before the July 5 contest. “We beat Everest at Everest in a non-league game (June 28), and then just had a real nice win over Tomahawk on Sunday (July 2) for a (Dairyland) league win, so playing good ball right now,” Rayburn added.
In a 4-3 win over the Everest Merchants, Pittsville jumped out to an early lead, scoring three runs in the top of the first inning, including a two-run base hit by Logan Zickert. The Merchants tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the second, but Pittsville’s pitching and defense shut them down the rest of the way, as Evan Haley tossed seven scoreless innings for the Bandits, striking out six and walking only one. In the fifth inning, Dawson Luther doubled to score Haley. But most of the Pittsville lineup got in on this hit parade. Dawson Luther, Dylan Luther, Ryan Schwanebeck, Logan Zickert, Jameson Krueger, Justin Rayburn and Ben Buettner each got one hit apiece. On the mound, Haley gave up no runs on six hits while walking one and striking out six.
In a 10-6 Dairyland League win over Tomahawk July 2, Pittsville exploded offensively with 14 hits. Dawson Luther was the winning pitcher, and he went 3-for-5 at the plate, with an RBI and a run scored. Logan Zickert was also 3-for-5, scored once and knocked in two runs. Evan Haley went 2-for-5 with two runs batted in and three runs scored. Dylan Luther was 2-for-4, with a walk, a run scored and three RBIs.
Rayburn is taking advantage of some home-grown talent this summer, from a Pittsville High School team coming off a recent sectional tournament run this spring.
“So this year we added some of those guys that were seniors this past spring,” Rayburn told DeLisio. “Dylan Luther, Evan Haley have been real big additions. We also have a few younger high school guys that’ll play with us – Logan Zickert, Dawson Luther, Jameson Krueger – that are mixed in with some of the veteran guys that have been playing for awhile, like Ryan Schwanebeck and Sam Schwanebeck and my brother (Jordan Rayburn) and myself, so it’s kind of a good mix of youth and experience on the team this year.”
Rayburn, who is also the Pittsville High School baseball coach, said the summer experience the high schoolers are getting is definitely paying off in the spring.
“I think we saw a huge improvement in spring ball this year with some of those guys that have played with the River Bandits in the past because when you start using a wood bat and you’re facing guys that throw a little harder – sometimes guys that are pitching at the college level – you see some improvement and it carries over into the spring,” said Rayburn. “I use the example of Dylan Luther. He started playing with the River Bandits a couple years ago. When he was a sophomore he was a J.V. baseball player, and this year as a senior he was the Player of the Year in the (CWC-South) conference, so I do think that it helps them develop, especially when they start seeing, like I said, some of these harder throwers.”
The River Bandits opened their season June 11 with a 7-5 loss to Westboro. Pittsville led all the way up until the eighth inning when Westboro hit a three-run home run to take the lead.
The Bandits bounced back June 18 with a 12-1 win over Spirit in seven innings. Ryan Schwanebeck was 2-for-3 with two doubles, two runs scored and a walk. Trevor Martin went 2-for-4 with a single, triple, two runs scored and three runs batted in. Dawson Luther was 2-for-4, with a single, a double, two runs scored and an RBI. The winning pitcher was Trevor Martin, who tossed five scoreless innings while walking seven and striking out six.
On June 22, Pittsville lost to Rayburn’s former team, the Marshfield Chaparrals, 10-2.
On Sunday, July 16 the River Bandits will host Abbotsford at 1:30 p.m., followed by a visit to Wisconsin Rapids on Wednesday, July 19 at 7 p.m. Pittsville then travels to Rib Lake on Friday, July 21 for a 7:30 p.m. league game, before closing out the regular season in Medford on Sunday, July 30 at 1:30 p.m.