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Up and down week for Legion

River Falls second baseman Josh Halling tags out an Eau Claire runner trying to steal second base after taking the throw from catcher Ryan Kusilek in the team's 16-1 loss to Eau Claire in an American Legion baseball game Thursday at the high school field. Bob Burrows photo

After scoring 19 runs in two games last week, the River Falls American Legion baseball team was held to just one run against fifth-ranked Eau Claire Thursday in a 16-1 defeat.

River Falls put nine runs on the board last Tuesday at Prescott but came out on the short end of a 10-9 decision before hitting double digits in a 10-2 win over Spooner/Hayward/Barron on Wednesday.

The Legion will host the River Falls Days Tournament this weekend with its first game scheduled for Friday at 4 p.m. against Mankato, Minn. Saturday they face Woodbury, Minn., at 10 a.m. and Fridley, Minn., at 3:30 p.m. before final round action Sunday at a time to be determined. All games will be played at the high school fields.

Last Tuesday, River Falls outhit Prescott 12-9 but committed nine errors in a 10-9 loss.

"Our inability to make the routine plays handed them eight unearned runs," coach Ryan Bishop said. "I don't remember the last time we had nine defensive errors in one game, and I sure hope I don't see that high a number again for awhile."

Only one of the six runs Prescott scored off River Falls' starter Alex Call in the first five innings was earned. Call allowed five hits while striking out four and walking four. Isaac Witt took the loss in relief, allowing four runs, but just one earned, on four hits while striking out one and walking one in two innings of work.

Prescott led 9-7 in the seventh before River Falls tied the score in the top of the inning on a double by Josh Haling, an RBI single by Witt and a suicide squeeze bunt by Nate Soley. But Prescott scored in the bottom of the seventh, just its second earned run of the game, to win 10-9.

Call was 3-for-3 at the plate while JP Feyereisen had two doubles and three RBI and Zach Balsiger was 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Bishop said the loss was disappointing after the team played so well at the tournament in Omaha, Neb., a week earlier.

"You come back from playing college caliber players in Omaha and you expect to continue playing at that level," he said. "We played down today and hopefully the boys realize we're not good enough to do that with anyone we play."

The team bounced back the next night at home in a scheduled nine-inning game against Spooner/Hayward/Barron. River Falls pounded out 12 more hits including a solo home run by Ryan Kusilek.

River Falls broke the game open with five runs in the fourth, highlighted by back-to-back, two-run doubles by Feyereisen and Colin Pechacek that made the score 7-2.

Two more doubles by Balsiger and Call resulted in two more runs in the sixth to extend the lead to 9-2 before Kusilek ended the scoring with a solo homer in the eighth.

Feyereisen, Balsiger and Call each had two hits, including a double apiece, while Soley had a pair of singles in the win.

Feyereisen struck out 13 on his way to earning the complete-game victory on the mound. He allowed two runs on four hits while walking seven.

"JP had a few more walks than he would like, but he dug down when he had to and got the job done," Bishop said. "Our defense played solid as well, playing errorless ball for all nine innings."

Thursday at home against Eau Claire, Eau Claire scored in every inning but the fourth on its way to a 16-1 win over River Falls. River Falls' lone run came on an RBI single by Austin Johnson.

"Both Eau Claire North and Eau Claire Memorial were top-ranked teams all spring, and when you combine the two schools together they put quite a lineup on the field," Bishop said. "We simply got outhit, outpitched and outplayed on defense by a better team tonight."

Jack Herum took the loss on the mound while Pechacek and Johnson each pitched in relief.

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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