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Legion third at Falls Classic

River Falls' Ben Wunrow hits a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning to give the America Legion baseball team a 2-0 lead against Roseville Saturday morning at the Falls Classic baseball tournament at the high school fields. River Falls defeated Roseville 3-2 and went on to capture third place in the eight team field. Bob Burrows photo

The River Falls America Legion baseball team dropped the first game of its Falls Classic Tournament to eventual champion Mankato, Minn., Friday night, but bounced back with three straight victories to place third in the eight-team field.

The 3-1 tourney mark gives the Legion a record of 11-9 heading into games this week at Ellsworth Tuesday night and at Stillwater, Minn., Thursday. Monday, July 20, it returns home to host Menomonie at 6 p.m.

River Falls coach Ryan Bishop said last weekend's tournament, which included a youth tournament in addition to the American Legion play, was a huge success.

"It was a great atmosphere with 50 games and 26 teams of various ages all playing this weekend," he said. "A lot of time and energy from many people went into making this weekend a success. Thanks to all who helped."

River Falls opened play with a 14-4 loss to eventual champion Mankato Friday night. Tyler Hunter doubled in a pair of runs in the first innings to give the locals an early 2-0 lead, but Mankato took the lead for good with four runs in the top of the third and put the game away with an eight-run fourth.

"We had one bad inning in the field and they hit the heck out of the ball that same inning," Bishop said. "That's not a good combo to have and they took advantage of it."

Saturday morning against Roseville, Minn., River Falls took a 2-0 lead in the fourth on an RBI single by Rickey Troester and a sacrifice fly by Ben Wunrow. Roseville answered with a pair of runs in the sixth, but River Falls plated a run in the top of the seventh on a two-out RBI single by Nate Soley that plated Curtis Christensen to earn a 3-2 victory.

Greg Cheever picked up the complete game win on the mound, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out three and walking two.

"Greg really battled out there today and beat a good Roseville team," Bishop said. "It was nice to see Soley come through with the winning hit against a very good pitcher. Good pitching and timely hitting was out key in this game."

Later Saturday against Minneapolis South, River Falls scored nine unanswered runs on its way to a 9-1 victory. Hunter, Wunrow, Christensen and Colin Pechacek all had RBIs in the win while Jack Herum picked up the win on the mound. Herum went five innings and allowed one unearned run on two hits while striking out five and walking two. J.P. Feyereisen didn't allow a hit over the final two innings.

In Sunday's third place game against Rosemount, Minn., River Falls trailed early, 6-0, before battling back for a 16-11 win in eight innings.

Rosemount led 11-8 in the top of the seventh before River Falls scored three runs to tie the score. Hunter drove in a run with a triple and Troester singled in Hunter to pull River Falls to within a run before Christensen scored from third on an errant pick-off throw with two outs to tie the score.

In the top of the eighth, River Falls took its first lead of the game and finished with five runs in the inning to make the final 16-11. Troester, Pechacek, Wunrow and Hunter all had RBIs in the inning.

Hunter finished with four hits, including a triple, three RBI and four runs scored, while Troester had four hits, two RBI and four runs scored. Pechacek finished with three hits and four RBI while Dylan James was 2-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored.

Pechacek picked up the win on the mound with two scoreless innings of work in relief.