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Cats win 3 of first 4

Wildcat sophomore Ryan Kusilek hits a sharp grounder to short for the final out of the fourth inning in the Cats' 6-0 victory over Prescott Monday at the high school field. River Falls went 3-1 in its opening week of action. Bob Burrows photo

The Wildcat baseball team had no problems putting runs on the board in its first four games of the season.

The Cats won three of those games, defeating Ellsworth 6-3 last Tuesday, Baldwin-Woodville 15-3 Friday and Prescott 6-0 this past Monday. The only blemish on their record came last Thursday when East Ridge, a brand new high school in Woodbury, Minn., scored a walk-off 6-5 victory in its very first varsity game.

Overall, Wildcat head coach Ryan Bishop said he likes what he's seen so far.

"As a whole, we've had some pleasant surprises, and each game this first week is helping answer questions about the lineup we expect to be putting on the field this spring," he said.

The Cats opened with a soggy 6-3 victory at Ellsworth last Tuesday. Trailing 2-1 in the top of the fifth, the Cats tied the score on a single by Marty Herum that plated Ryan Kusilek.

River Falls took the lead for good in the sixth when Dylan James was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in JP Feyereisen, who had led off the inning with a single.

Kusilek's third hit of the game and second RBI highlighted a three run seventh that extended the Wildcats' lead to 6-2.

Each team had seven hits in the game with Kusilek leading River Falls by going 3-for-3.

Jack Herum started on the mound and worked the first four innings, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out three and walking one. Feyereisen picked up the win in relief, going the final three innings and allowing one run on one hit with six strikeouts and five walks.

"It was a typical early season outing on the mound with both pitchers needing to find the strike zone a little more efficiently," Bishop said. "But both pitchers also had their bright spots by having to battle out of tough innings with the game on the line."

The Wildcats' lone loss came in their second game of the week when East Ridge scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh to post a 6-5 victory. Both runs came on a pair of infield errors and a botched double play that would have ended the game.

"It was a back-and-forth game that, unfortunately for us but fittingly for them, ended with a walk-off for their first ever win," Bishop said.

Trey Peterson hit a two-run home run and added an RBI sacrifice fly to account for half the Wildcat runs. Feyereisen had a pair of hits and a run scored and Marty Herum added an RBI single while Ben Wunrow and Austin Johnson each doubled.

Rickey Troester worked the first four innings on the mound and allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits while striking out one and walking one. Colin Pechacek pitched two innings, giving up two runs on two hits with two strikeouts and two walks. Marty Herum took the loss when East Ridge scored two unearned runs on two hits in the bottom of the seventh.

"If we make the plays in the field it's a 1-2-3 seventh to end the game," Bishop pointed out. "Unfortunately that didn't happen and the guys learned how quick things can turn on you when you give a team more than three outs in an inning."

Peterson's grand slam in the sixth put the finishing touches on the Wildcats' 15-3 victory over Baldwin-Woodville in the Cats' home opener Friday.

Feyereisen hit a two-run homer to highlight a five run fourth inning and finished just a triple short of the cycle while driving in four runs. Marty Herum was 3-for-4 with four runs scored while Pechacek had two hits, including a double, with two RBI and two runs scored.

"It was nice to see our bats come alive for the first time this spring," Bishop said.

Johnson pitched the first five innings and picked up the win, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out five and walking two, before Jamie Kozak pitched a scoreless sixth.

The Cats pounded out 14 hits and played errorless ball behind Feyereisen, who picked up the complete game shutout win, in a 6-0 victor over Prescott Monday.

Feyereisen allowed just one hit while striking out 14 and walking seven.

"JP simply overpowered their hitters all game long," Bishop said. "His only flaw was walking seven hitters, but it's early in the season and like all pitchers, their control will get better with each outing."

Marty Herum went 3-for-3 with a triple and three runs scored while Feyereisen, Pechacek and James had two hits and an RBI each. Freshman Alex Call made his varsity debut and ripped a double in his first at-bat.

"We had all pistons firing tonight, which was nice to see," Bishop said.

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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