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Wildcat catcher Kyle Duex blocks the plate but can't get the tag on Eau Claire North's Ryan O'Connor in the second inning of the Cats' home opener last Tuesday at the high school field. Eau Claire North swept the Wildcats, 11-1 and 5-4. <i>Bob Burrows photos</i>

Baseball drops pair to ECN

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River Falls Journal
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Baseball drops pair to ECN
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

After dropping an 11-1 decision to Eau Claire North in the first game of a doubleheader last Tuesday, April 30, the Wildcat baseball team saw the nightcap slip away on a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh that gave the Huskies a 5-4 victory and a sweep of a Big Rivers Conference doubleheader in River Falls.

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The Cats jumped out to a 4-0 first-inning lead in the second game of the doubleheader, but North chipped away with single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings before scoring two more in the seventh to pull out the victory.

"We were pleased with how the guys responded to start game two," Wildcat co-head coach Ryan Bishop said. "However we learned that it's a long game and you have to play all seven innings. Give North credit though, they hit us when we were down in the first game and kept fighting till the bell in the second game."

The Huskies took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first in the opener and the Cats had runners on second and third in the bottom of the inning but failed to score. North scored five more runs in the second, highlighted by a grand slam by Sam Hurt, and added five more in the fifth.

River Falls' lone run came on a solo homer by Sam Barr in the bottom of the fourth. Barr had two of the Wildcats' four hits in the game, while Alex Call and James Witt each had a single.

Levi Slimak took the loss on the mound, working the first inning-and-a-third and allowing four earned runs on one hit -- the grand slam -- while walking four and striking out one. Jon Krueger went 2 2/3 innings and allowed three earned runs on three hits with two walks and one strikeout while Jake Halling allowed one earned run and one hit in one inning of work.

River Falls bounced back by scoring four runs in the top of the first in the nightcap. Krueger started things off with a one-out double and Barr singled before Josh Rudesill was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Witt followed with a liner to left that was misplayed for two runs before Brady Stocker singled in a run and Tyler Eliason drew a bases-loaded walk for another.

River Falls managed just two hits the rest of the way however -- a double by Call to lead off the fifth and a two-out single by Eliason in the sixth.

Witt started on the mound and worked the first five innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits while striking out three and walking three. Kyle Duex gave up two earned runs on two hits and two walks in one inning of action before Dylan Kusilek was tagged for the winning run in the seventh.

Bishop said the Cats need to trust in their abilities, and play to win rather than not to lose.

"Hopefully losing two nail biters in our first four games gave our guys some experience in mental toughness as we play out a very short season," he said. "I'm confident our guys will continue to improve both our physical and mental skills."

The Cats host Blaine, Minn. in a nonconference game Wednesday, May 8, at 4 p.m. and will visit East Ridge Thursday, May 9 before hosting Eau Claire Memorial in a BRC doubleheader Tuesday, May 14, at 4 p.m.

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Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
(715) 426-1047
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