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Wildcat senior Sam Barr (7) gets an enthusiastic welcome home from junior Brian Grove after both scored on a fifth-inning double by Jon Krueger to give the Cats a 3-0 lead over Hudson last Friday in Hudson. Krueger finished with four RBI and James Witt tossed a complete game, two-hit shutout as the Cats posted a 6-0 victory. (River Falls Journal photo by Bob Burrows)

Wildcat baseball tops defending BRC champs

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After going ten days without playing a game and being stuck inside for practice all week, the Wildcat baseball team didn’t miss a beat when it returned to the field at Hudson’s Grandview Park last Friday, May 2.

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Jon Krueger drove in four runs, the Cats pounded out 10 hits, and lefty James Witt threw a complete game, two-hit shutout as the Wildcats blanked the defending big Rivers Conference champion Raiders, 6-0.

This past Monday, May 5, the Cats took a 5-2 lead into the seventh inning against BRC leader and sixth-ranked Eau Claire North before the Huskies rallied and escaped with an 8-5 victory.

Wildcat head coach Ryan Bishop said he’s pleased by the resolve is team has shown during a tough part of the schedule.

“Those are a couple very good teams we played this week,” he said. “Although we ended up splitting, it's encouraging for our team to know we easily could have won both games.”

The Cats, now 9-2 overall, 3-2 in BRC play, travel to Hopkins for a nonconference game Thursday, May 8, before hosting Rice lake in a BRC doubleheader Friday, May, 9, beginning at 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 13, they play a home doubleheader against Chippewa Falls.

Last Friday in the top of the first in Hudson, Sam Barr singled with two outs, Krueger reached on a catcher’s interference and Kyle Duex walked to load the bases. Brady Stocker drew a walk to force in Barr and give the Cats an early 1-0 lead.

Witt got a strikeout to end the bottom of the fourth with runners on first and third and preserve the 1-0 lead before the Wildcats tacked on three runs in the top of the fifth on a run-scoring single by Bar and a two-run double by Krueger.

Back-to-back singles by Michael Wesner and Brian Grove to lead off the seventh, a Raider error, and a single by Krueger resulted in two more runs, and Witt retired the Raiders in order in the bottom of the inning to seal the 6-0 victory.

Krueger, Barr and Stocker al had two hits in the win while Witt struck out seven, walked two and hit two batters.

“That win was a direct reflection of how hard our boys worked indoors all week,” Bishop said. “I was very proud of them for staying focused and improving every day even though we were stuck inside. Our defense made some clutch plays and our offense broke through with the timely hits. Add in a gem from James on the mound and you get the complete game effort that all teams strive for.”

This past Monday at home against Eau Claire North, River Falls led 5-0 after five innings and took a 5-2 lead into the seventh before the Huskies rallied for six runs to escape with the 8-5 victory.

The Cats took a 2-0 lead in the first when Wesner scored on a sacrifice fly by Duex and Grove came home on a passed ball.

Mason Woiwode and Logan Schmidt led off the second inning with back-to-back singles and after a sac bunt by Wesner, Grove reached on an error allowing Woiwode to score. Schmidt came home on another Husky error and Grove ended up scoring on a passed ball to give the Cats a 5-0 lead.

Wildcat pitcher Jake Halling limited the Huskies to four hits through the first five innings before North scored a pair of runs on a walk, a single and a pair of Wildcat errors in the sixth.

The Huskies sent 12 batters to the plate against three different Wildcat pitchers in the top of the seventh, scoring six times, to make the final 8-5.

“I felt we outplayed them for most of the game,” Bishop said. “Jake did a great job holding their hitters in check. He mixed his pitches well and put us in position to beat a very good team. The seventh just snowballed into one of those innings where nothing went our way. But credit North for not giving in when they were down to their final outs. No doubt a tough loss for our team, but I'm confident that we will take some positives out of this game.”

Schmidt had two of the Wildcats’ six hits while Halling allowed five hits with five strikeouts and three walks in six innings of work.  

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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.
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