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Baseball drops five straight

Wildcat Josh Rudesill (8) congratulates pinch runner Brian Grove after both players scored on a single by Michael Wesner in the second inning of the first game of a doubleheader last Friday in Hudson.1 / 2
River Falls' Michael Wesner strokes a bases-loaded single up the middle to drive in a pair of runs in the second inning of the first game of a doubleheader last Friday in Hudson. Bob Burrows photos2 / 2

The Wildcat baseball team couldn't dig itself out of some early holes and couldn't hold on to some late leads when it had the chance while dropping its last five straight games.

The Cats were swept by Eau Claire Memorial, 6-0 and 9-2, last Tuesday, May 14, and dropped a pair of games at Hudson, 7-4 and 11-9, last Friday, May 17, before losing a nonconference game to Tartan, 11-7, this past Monday, May 20.

River Falls, now 5-9 overall, 4-4 in Big Rivers Conference play, hosted Menomonie in a BRC doubleheader this past Tuesday and will host Elk Mound in a nonconference game Thursday, May 23, at 5 p.m. before opening WIAA regional play at Superior Tuesday, May 28. The winner of that game will be at top-seeded Stevens Point Thursday, May 30.

Wildcat co-head coach Ryan Bishop said last week was a frustrating one for the Cats.

"After spotting teams some early runs in every game this week, I thought our guys did a nice job of battling back into every one of those games," he said. "We held a couple late leads in games but couldn't close them out. Most games are won or lost in crunch time and our opponents did a better job than us when it mattered most. That's the mental hurdle we are trying to get over as a team, and until we do that we haven't earned the right to win those close games."

Last Tuesday at home against Eau Claire Memorial, the Cats managed just three hits -- singles by Alex Call, Kyle Duex and Brady Stocker -- in a 6-0 loss in the first game of a twin bill.

Sam Barr took the loss on the mound, allowing three earned runs on six hits while striking out one and walking one.

Memorial took a 9-0 lead in the nightcap before the Cats scored a pair of runs in the seventh to make the final 9-2. Call had a pair of hits while Duex took the loss on the mound.

Friday, on a soggy Grandview Park field in Hudson, the Raiders scored three first inning runs before the Cats closed the gap on a two-run single by Michael Wesner in the second. The Raiders led 4-3 before scoring three runs in the final two innings to seal the win.

Josh Rudesill and James Witt each had a pair of hits for the Wildcats while Mason Woiwode was tagged with the loss on the mound, allowing three earned runs and five hits in three innings pitched while striking out two and walking five.

The Wildcats erupted for eight runs in the fourth inning of the nightcap to take an 8-5 lead, but Hudson put together a five-run fifth inning on its way to an 11-9 win.

Call was 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI and Jon Krueger had a two-run triple while Woiwode had two hits, two RBI and two runs scored.

Krueger took the loss on the mound, allowing eight earned runs on nine hits with one strikeout and two walks in five innings of work.

Krueger doubled, homered and drove in a pair of runs this past Monday against Tartan and the Cats were clinging to a 7-6 lead before Tartan scored five times in the top of the seventh to steal an 11-7 win. Call had three hits and an RBI and Duex drove in a run in the loss.

"It was obviously a frustrating week in the win-loss column," Bishop said. "However we do continue to learn that we can physically play with any team we've faced this spring. I was pleased with the progress or hitting and defense made this week. We just need to be more consistent throughout the entire seven innings."

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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