Cats wreak havoc on BRC race, win 4 straight conference gamesThe Wildcat baseball team did its part to turn the race for the Big Rivers Conference title into a free-for-all by knocking off first place Eau Claire Memorial, 4-1, May 15, at the high school field.
By: Bob Burrows, River Falls Journal
The Wildcat baseball team did its part to turn the race for the Big Rivers Conference title into a free-for-all by knocking off first place Eau Claire Memorial, 4-1, May 15, at the high school field.
The Cats went on to post a 5-2 victory Friday, May 18, at Menomonie to end their BRC schedule with a four-game winning streak.
The Cats are currently one of four teams in the BRC with seven wins at 7-5 but don’t play another conference game. Eau Claire Memorial, Eau Claire North and Chippewa Falls are all 7-4 and Memorial and North play each other this week, so although a conference title for the Cats isn’t in the picture, co-coach Ryan Bishop isn’t complaining.
“It was a nice end to the conference season winning our last four games,” he said.
In the May 15 game against No. 7-ranked Eau Claire Memorial, the two teams combined for just six hits -- four by River Falls and two by the Old Abes. But the Wildcats made their hits count while James Witt kept Memorial in check on the mound. The freshman pitcher allowed just two hits in six innings of work while striking out four and walking three. Dylan Kusilek earned the save in the seventh.
Witt helped himself at the plate as well with a two-run single in the fourth to give the Cats a 4-0 lead. Memorial threatened with a run in the sixth but Wildcat centerfielder Alex Call made a diving catch that led to an inning ending double play to kill the rally.
The Wildcat win snapped a 10-game winning streak for the Old Abes, with their last loss coming at the hands of River Falls earlier this season in Eau Claire.
“This was a great team effort against a very good team tonight,” Bishop said. “Solid defense and timely hitting were keys but it all starts with pitching. (Catcher) Ryan Kusilek called a great game from behind the plate and James simply executed whatever pitch Ryan called. It was pretty special to watch a senior and a freshman work together like that.”
Friday at Menomonie, Call singled in a run in the second to give the Cats a 3-2 lead and Josh Rudesill added a two-run single in the seventh to give River Falls a 5-2 victory.
Ben Peters picked up the complete game victory on the mound, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out five and walking two, while Ryan Kusilek was 2-for-3 at the plate.
Saturday the Cats hosted New Richmond and Wausau East for a nonconference triangular and came away with a split -- losing to the Tigers 6-4 and beating Wausau East 11-5.
The Cats outhit New Richmond 10-2 but made six errors and walked six batters. River Falls left 13 runners on base as well.
Sam Barr was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Rudesill had two hits while Call, Witt and Brad Erdrich drove in a run apiece.
“It’s pretty frustrating to hold a team to two hits and strike them out 12 times but still get beat,” Bishop said. “But we didn't play a complete game and they took advantage of our mistakes.”
Erdrich had three hits, including an RBI double, and scored three times and Ryan Kusilek was 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs in the Cats’ 11-5 win over Wausau East. Rudesill contributed two hits and two RBIs and Barr was 2-for-3 with a double and RBI while Kerr earned the win on the mound.
“It was good to see us play with more consistency and end the day on a positive note,” Bishop said.
The Wildcats, now 13-10 overall, earned the No. 8 seed and will host No. 9 Superior in a WIAA regional semifinal game Tuesday, May 29, at 5 p.m. The winner will travel to top-seed Stevens Point Thursday, May 31 for the regional title.