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Baseball draws No. 9 seed

Wildcat sophomore Ryan Kusilek lays down a bunt to advance Austin Johnson to second after Johnson led off the first inning with a base hit in the Cats' 5-2 loss to Eau Claire North Monday at the high school field. Bob Burrows photo

Wildcat baseball coach Ryan Bishop was pleased with how his team played in its 5-2 loss to second-ranked and Big Rivers Conference champion Eau Claire North Monday.

And he hopes to see them again.

The Cats, 11-10 overall, drew the No. 9 seed in next week's WIAA regional playoffs and will travel to No. 8 seed Superior on Tuesday, June 1. The winner will face the top-seeded Huskies at Carson Park in Eau Claire on Friday, June 4.

"We've no doubt got our work cut out for us, but the boys also know that we have the ability to make a run if we play consistent," Bishop said.

Monday the Huskies scored a single run in the third and three more in the fourth to take a 4-0 lead.

The Wildcats scored both their runs in the fifth when Austin Johnson singled and Marty Herum followed with a homer. North added a single run in the sixth to make the final 5-2.

Bishop said he was much happier with the Wildcats' effort Monday than he was in the team's 3-1 loss at Menomonie in their previous game last Thursday.

"Regardless of the outcome, we played with more enthusiasm and gave ourselves some confidence to build off of," he said. "I felt we battled a very good team from start to finish today. We had them on edge, and I hope our boys realize just how good we can be it we put it all together."

The Wildcats had runners in scoring position with less than two outs in each of the first five innings while four of North's five runs came with two outs.

"Their execution as the plate ended up being the difference today," Bishop said.

In addition to Herum's two-run homer, Johnson went 4-for-4 at the plate while Rickey Troester had a pair of hits.

Jack Herum took the complete game loss on the mound, allowing five runs on 11 hits while striking out five and walking two.

"Jack kept the No. 2-ranked team in the state in check all game," Bishop said.

Last Thursday Menomonie scored a pair of unearned runs in a 3-1 victory over the Wildcats.

"They scored two unearned runs on first and third situations in which we simply didn't execute on defense," Bishop said.

River Falls outhit Menomonie 6-4 in the game. JP Feyereisen had two of the Wildcat hits while Marty Herum added a double.

Jack Herum was tagged with the loss, working the first four innings and allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits while striking out two and walking none. Alex Call didn't allow a hit in the final three innings but was tagged for an unearned run. He struck out three while walking none.

"The pitchers definitely threw well enough to give us a chance," Bishop said. "This was a very frustrating loss. We came out flat and simply didn't execute when we had the opportunities, both on offense and defense."

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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