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Cats win one of three in BRC play

Austin Johnson of River Falls gets caught in a rundown between third base and home in the fourth inning of the Cats' Big Rivers Conference game against Hudson Thursday at the high school field. Johnson finished with two hits in the game to help the Wildcats post a 7-3 victory. Bob Burrows photo

The Wildcats baseball team picked up a 7-3 victory over Hudson last Thursday before being swept by undefeated and sixth-ranked Eau Claire Memorial, 6-0 and 3-0, Monday at the high school field.

The Cats, now 2-4 in the Big Rivers Conference, 7-6 overall, will host Menomonie (0-4, 2-5) Thursday before facing Sioux Falls and D. C. Everest in a home tournament Saturday with the first game scheduled for 11 a.m.

Last Thursday at home against Hudson (4-2, 5-4), Marty Herum had a two-run homer and Dylan James drove in three runs with a single and sacrifice fly as the Wildcats defeated the Raiders, 7-3.

Herum's homer came in the bottom of the first and was followed by a two-run single by Trey Peterson and James' sacrifice fly to give River Falls a 5-0 lead.

Hudson scored three in the third, with two of its runs coming on bases-loaded walks, to make it a 5-3 game, but James' two-out single in the third extended the Wildcat lead to 7-3. James also made a diving catch in short right field from his second base position in the fifth to help keep the Raiders from getting any closer.

"Our defense came up with some great plays on top of playing error-free baseball," Wildcat coach Ryan Bishop said. "We executed all three parts of the game, from pitching to hitting to defense. It was one of those nights where the guys really put it all together and played to their abilities."

Austin Johnson and Ryan Kusilek each had two hits in the win while Jack Herum picked up the complete game victory on the mound, allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out four and walking six.

"Jack had one tough inning where he walked in a couple of runs but he made some adjustments and really buckled down to get the job done," Bishop said.

Monday the Wildcats faced two of the toughest pitchers in the BRC and were shut out in both games of a doubleheader against Eau Claire Memorial (4-0, 12-0).

"Our pitchers and defense kept us in both games, and when you're facing a team like Memorial that's all you can ask for," Bishop said. "We didn't hit the ball well enough to win, but credit their pitchers, as we saw two of the best pitchers we've seen all year."

JP Feyereisen did his best to keep the Old Abes close in the first game. Feyereisen pitched the first five innings and allowed four earned runs on nine hits while striking out three and walking three.

Five of Memorial's six runs came with two outs while the Wildcats had runners on base in six of the seven innings but couldn't plate a run. Marty Herum led the Cats at the plate with two hits, including a double.

In the nightcap, the Wildcats had runners on second and third with one out in the top of the fourth but that was as close as they could get to scoring in a 3-0 loss.

Johnson started on the mound and allowed two runs on four hits before Alex Call took over and held Memorial to two hits and one run over the final six innings while striking out five and walking two.

"Alex did a great job holding them down and keeping us in the game," Bishop said.

Marty Herum, Feyereisen, Mark Bennett and Zach Balsiger accounted for the Wildcats' only hits in the game.

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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