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MEDFORD BASEBALL - Streak ends at 18; focus now is on making a tournament run

Streak ends at 18; focus now is on making a tournament run
Raider senior Max Dietzman pokes a single to leftfield that ties game two of Friday’s doubleheader with Stratford at 3-3 during the bottom of the sixth inning. Medford scored two more runs in the inning to earn a 5-3 and the team’s 18th straight win. MATT FREY/THE STAR NEWS
Streak ends at 18; focus now is on making a tournament run
Raider senior Max Dietzman pokes a single to leftfield that ties game two of Friday’s doubleheader with Stratford at 3-3 during the bottom of the sixth inning. Medford scored two more runs in the inning to earn a 5-3 and the team’s 18th straight win. MATT FREY/THE STAR NEWS




The win streak was going to end sometime and, for the Medford Raiders, the positive note is that it happened Monday with the regular season still in progress.

The Raiders got another gem of a pitching performance, this time from Nick Steliga, but the offense never got the key hit and Marshfield spoiled Senior Night at Raider Field with a 1-0 upset thanks to a run-scoring groundout by Tiger Adam Gilbertson in the top of the sixth inning.

Despite outhitting Marshfield 6-3, Medford’s school-record win streak ended at 18, putting the Raiders at 21-3 overall with one regular-season game left today, Thursday, against Division 4 power Pittsville at Raider Field. First pitch is at 4:30 p.m.

Marshfield (4-16) was the first team other than Mosinee that Medford has lost to this season, and this was the first loss for Medford since April 11.

Steliga’s first loss after seven pitching wins certainly wasn’t on his shoulders. He kept yet another team off-balance and lowered his earned run average to 1.83 over 49.2 innings by allowing just three hits while throwing just 82 pitches in seven innings. He struck out six and walked two.

“Nick Steliga pitched a great game,” Medford head coach Justin Hraby said. “He hit spots with his fastball, mixed in his off-speed well and really had them guessing all night long. He deserved a win for that outing. We left too many runners on base late. We had opportunities, just didn’t cash in. Early on we swung at some bad pitches early in the count that led to us getting down in the count and having to be defensive rather than offensive at the plate.”

After Monday’s game, the team’s earned run average is an unreal 1.74 through 160.2 innings played.

“It’s been great,” senior Tanner Hraby said Friday of the team’s pitching. “The big thing is just throwing strikes. Everybody just comes in, does their job, throws strikes and gets a lot of ground balls and pop-ups. Those are easy plays to make and our defense has made them.”

“The number-one problem that other people thought we were going to have coming into the year was pitching, losing Bummy (Logan Baumgartner), Ty Metz, Moby (Gavin Fuchs) and all of those important pieces out of our bullpen,” senior Max Dietzman said. But so many guys have found a way to step up. Strebs (Hayden Strebig) has stepped up into a big role. Chuck (Gierl) has stepped up into a big role. We have all of the pieces of pitching that we lost.”

Dietzman was out of the lineup Monday, possibly part of the reason the offense lost a little punch against Tiger pitchers Bryce Schade and Owen Griesbach. Schade allowed four hits in five innings with five strikeouts and two walks. After giving up a leadoff single to Braxton Weissmiller in the bottom of the sixth, Griesbach took over and got the last six outs with a strikeout, a walk and two hits allowed. He did have to survive the sixth as Steliga singled and Evan Wilkins walked to load the bases with one out. But Griesbach got a strikeout and a groundout to get out of it.

In the seventh, Gierl led off with a single, but Hraby hit into a fielder’s choice and Marshfield turned a game-ending double play on Parker Lissner’s sharplyhit grounder.

Medford left eight runners on base, compared to Marshfield’s four. The Tigers set up their run with a walk to Jakob Sadowska, who went to third on a single by Chase Robinson.

Weissmiller was two for three for Medford, while Ryder Kraschnewski and Jack Wojcik added hits.

Now that the streak has ended, the Raiders can now simply focus on winning for one simple cause, starting Tuesday when top-seeded Medford hosts either ninth-seeded Lakeland or eighth-seeded Rice Lake in a WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal. Those teams play in their regional opener today. Tuesday’s winner will play in a regional final Wednesday.

“As a senior, I want to be part of the tournament and I want to go to state, but man, I just don’t want it to end,” Dietzman said. “No one does. All we can really do is fight for as long as we can. The numberone can still go out. It doesn’t instantly lock us into how many games. It doesn’t lock us in for the championship game or anything.”

“It’s a ton of fun,” Tanner Hraby said. “We know we only have a couple of weeks left, so we’re enjoying every moment of it.”

“What a great group of players,” coach Hraby said, referring to the Senior Night festivities. “They have accomplished so much this year and during their four years in our program. Ninety wins, a couple of GNC titles, a regional title, what a run. It’s a special group to me as I have been fortunate enough to have coached these guys the last 10-plus years. A lot of great memories and we are hoping for more to come in the next few weeks.”

Doubleheader sweep

On Friday at Raider Field, Tanner Hraby came within two outs of a no-hitter in a 2-0 game-one win over Stratford and Strebig kept Medford close enough that a three-run rally in the sixth got the Raiders over the hump in a 5-3 game-two win.

Down 3-2 in game two after the Tigers had taken the lead in the top of the sixth on a sacrifice fly from Alec Chapin, the Raiders came through when it counted in the bottom half. Carson Carbaugh drew a one-out walk and went to third on Steliga’s single to set the table for Dietzman, who broke out of a lengthy hitting slump last week.

Dietzman wasted no time, slapping the first pitch he saw from Tiger starter Drew Gage the opposite way into leftfield to tie the game at 3-3.

“I knew Stratford’s pitching way is to get ahead with the fastball,” Dietzman said. “That’s what all of them had done, so I kinda thought he was going to do the same. He did. It wasn’t the prettiest swing in the world, but it got it done.

“It feels great,” he added. “This past week, if I was hitting like that last year, I’d be pretty content, but I wouldn’t be elated. Now after going through that long dry spell and now I’m hitting like this, I’m pretty elated. I’m pretty happy. I’m not putting up 0-fers.”

Gierl followed with a grounder that Stratford misplayed, allowing Steliga to score. Wojcik’s bouncer to left scored Dietzman.

“We had a call go against us in the top of the sixth that allowed them to take the lead,” Justin Hraby said. “We overcame and were able to move on from that. Carson and Nick got themselves on base and Max Dietzman had a big hit to tie it. Then Charlie and Jack came up with some big at-bats to give us a lead going into the seventh.” Gierl finished his four-out relief win with a 1-2-3 seventh and the 18th straight win was sealed.

“We know we’re always in the game,” Tanner Hraby said. “I think we have a team that is always going to battle the whole game and I think that showed today.”

Stratford jumped on Medford for two quick runs in the first, one of which came on Brady Berg’s double to deep left. But the Raiders got even in the third with a twoout rally. Wilkins reached on an error and Hraby walked. Lissner singled past third base to drive in one run and, when he got himself in and out of a rundown, Hraby scored as well.

Strebig went 5.2 innings and worked around six hits and a walk to allow three runs, just one of which was earned. He struck out three. Dietzman was two for three to lead the offense.

“Hayden had a tough first inning, but once he located his fastball and got his curveball over for a strike, he pitched very well,” Justin Hraby said.

In a quick first game that took about 65 minutes to play, Hraby set the first 12 Tigers he faced down in order and took a no-hitter into the seventh. He got the first out with a comebacker, but then walked Berg. Henry Zaleski’s single not only ended the no-hitter, but also put the lead in jeopardy. But Stratford had a base-running blunder on an infield fly, Medford turned a double play and held on for the 2-0 win.

Hraby struck out four and needed just 78 pitches to get through seven innings.

“That’s probably at the top,” Hraby said when compared to his other outings this year. “I was feeling good, throwing a lot of strikes, locating my curve ball, so that helped and obviously the defense made a bunch of plays.”

“Tanner was spot on,” Justin Hraby said. “He worked fast and really kept them guessing. Pitching performances like that are really fun to watch. He was in control and challenged every one of their hitters. So close to another no-hitter.”

Offensively, Medford had seven hits and scored single runs in the fourth and fifth. Singles by Weissmiller and Steliga set up Dietzman’s sacrifice fly in the fourth and Wilkins doubled and scored on Hraby’s hit in the fifth. Steliga was two for three against Zaleski, who struck out four and walked no one in six innings.

“Eighteen in a row is impressive and is something that will never be taken away from this group, and quite frankly probably never be broken,” Justin Hraby said.

“It’s amazing to be a part of the Medford baseball team,” Dietzman said of the team atmosphere during this season’s surprising success. “The friendship and love you have for all of your teammates, along with how close of a tight-knit group we are, there is no resentment, there is no jealousy. There’s nothing. Nothing can be perfect, but I think we’re about as close as we’d like to get.”

Medford third baseman Parker Lissner makes the throw across the diamond to retire Stratford’s Riley Spindler during game two of Friday’s doubleheader sweep at Raider Field. The Raiders took this game 5-3. MATT FREY/THE STAR NEWS

Medford’s Hannah Fleegel tries to get the soccer ball out of a trap employed by Lakeland’s Elsa Schockley (8) and Navarette during Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the T-Birds. Medford’s Talyn Peterson (3) and Masaeda Krug (7) watch from behind the play. BRETT LaBORE/THE LAKELAND TIMES