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River Falls American Legion baseball team wins opener

The River Falls America Legion baseball team kicked off its 2009 summer season with a 12-6 victory over Prescott Thursday in River Falls.

Five River Falls pitchers combined to allow Prescott hits with starter Curtis Christensen earning the win, allowing two earned runs on three hits while striking out nine and walking one in three innings of work.

Greg Cheever followed Christensen with two innings of scoreless, one-hit ball before Rickey Troester was tagged for four runs without getting an out in the sixth. Trey Peterson worked one-third of an inning before Austin Johnson allowed just one hit and one walk over the final 1 2/3 innings.

"All the pitchers have had a week off now so we wanted to get them each a little work tonight," River Falls coach Ryan Bishop said. "It was a pretty solid first game, minus one bad inning on the mound."

The locals scored two runs in each of the first two innings to take a 4-0 lead behind RBI hits by Troester, Peterson, Ben Wunrow and Dylan James. Prescott cut the gap to 4-2 with two in the third before an unearned run in the bottom of the third extended River Falls' lead to 5-2.

Sam Witt delivered an RBI single in the fifth to make it a 6-2 game and Mark Bennett, Wunrow and Tyler Hunter all picked up RBI singles in a three-run fifth to widen the gap to 9-2, but Prescott scored four runs without a hit in the sixth to make it a 9-6 game.

"Our pitchers walked six batters in the inning and we had one error as well," Bishop noted.

River Falls put the game away with a three-run sixth thanks to RBI singles by Troester, Nate Soley and Johnson.

Troester was 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI and Witt was 2-for-4 with an RBI to highlight the locals' effort at the plate. Wunrow and Bennett each had two stolen bases and scored twice.

Bishop said he's looking forward to a strong season from the legion team.

"I'm excited to be coaching this group again and I know they will improve and hopefully gain some valuable experience as the summer goes on," he said. "We do have both junior and senior legion teams this summer, which are primarily made up of this spring's high school varsity and JV rosters."

Both teams will compete in the Wisconsin America Legion State Playoffs in July.

The senior legion team's season continues Wednesday night at 6 p.m. when it hosts Spooner at the high school varsity field. It will play a doubleheader at Chippewa Falls Friday and a nine-inning contest at Eau Claire Monday before another doubleheader Tuesday at Menomonie. The team will be home again next Wednesday, June 24, at 6 p.m. against Ellsworth.