Legion going back to stateFor the second straight summer, and third time in the last four years, the River Falls Legion Post 121 team is in the Wisconsin American Legion AA State Tournament.
By: Bob Burrows, River Falls Journal
For the second straight summer, and third time in the last four years, the River Falls Legion Post 121 team is in the Wisconsin American Legion AA State Tournament.
River Falls earned a return trip to state by defeating Menomonie, 8-3, in the regional title game Sunday in Menomonie. They opened regional play with a 15-2 victory Friday over New Richmond and defeated Menomonie 4-3 on Saturday before beating Menomonie again in Sunday’s title game.
River Falls will open state tournament play in Tomah this Friday at 3 p.m. against Holmen. Last year Post 121 won its first state tournament game before dropping the next two.
“This year we’re a little more experienced and excited for the opportunity to represent Post 121 again,” head coach Ryan Bishop said.
River Falls had no trouble against New Richmond in last Friday’s regional opener. J.P. Feyereisen drove in four runs with a pair of hits and Brad Erdrich was 2-for-2 with two RBI while Josh Halling and Nate Soley each had two hits and one RBI while Zach Balsiger drove in a pair of runs and Isaac Witt and Ryan Kusilek had one RBI each.
Jack Herum picked up the win on the mound, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out two and walking two in four innings of work. Witt pitched two scoreless innings of relief.
After receiving a bye in the second round, River Falls won a 4-3 nail biter against Menomonie Saturday afternoon.
Menomonie took an early 1-0 lead but River Falls tied the score on an RBI sacrifice fly by Colin Pechacek in the third. River Falls took a 2-1 lead in the fifth when Soley doubled and scored on a base hit by Feyereisen.
Menomonie got a run in the bottom of the fifth to tie the score but River Falls scored twice in the top of the sixth, on an RBI double by Soley and a run-scoring single by Halling, to take a 4-2 lead.
Menomonie pulled to within 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh and had the tying run on second with no outs but Feyereisen retired the next three batters to preserve the win. Feyereisen went the distance, allowing three runs, just one earned, on three hits while striking out 11 and walking three.
Soley, Halling and Balsiger had two hits each in the win as River Falls outhit Menomonie 9-3.
“Only giving up three hits makes you think it shouldn’t even be close,” Bishop said. “But we had an uncharacteristic five errors in the game that kept them in it. Give credit to Menomonie for taking advantage of our errors and making it a close game.”
Menomonie came back through the loser’s bracket to face River Falls again in the title game, but River Falls snapped a 3-3 tie with four runs in the sixth, highlighted by RBI singles by Kusilek and Soley, on its way to an 8-3 victory.
Halling had two hits, including a double, and one RBI while Feyereisen and Pechacek also doubled for River Falls. Jake Kerr picked up the win on the mound, allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out two and walking two in five innings of work. Halling pitched two innings of scoreless relief.
“There’s no question our team experience played a big factor in those last two close games,” Bishop said. “Both games came down to late game execution and our guys didn’t fold under the pressure. Although we had a few more errors than usual we did make the plays when we needed to. Our bats produced when the game was on the line, and our pitchers made big pitches when they had to. Overall this group continues to prove to me why they’ve had the success that they’ve had.”
River Falls, ranked fifth in last week’s Legion AA poll, takes a record of 19-3 into this weekend’s state tournament.