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Baseball splits with Menomonie

Wildcat pitcher Dylan Kusilek delivers a pitch to the plate in the third inning of the Cats' 5-1 loss to Elk Mound in the final home game of the season last Thursday. Kusilek allowed just two earned runs through the first four innings but took the loss on the mound. Bob Burrows photo

James Witt struck out ten batters and didn't allow a hit while the Wildcat offense exploded for 18 runs on 16 hits in an 18-0 River Falls win over Menomonie in the first game of a doubleheader last Tuesday, May 21, at the high school field.

The second game was a stark contrast from the first as River Falls was held to just three hits in a 9-0 loss to the Mustangs. The Cats wrapped up the regular season with a 5-1 loss to Elk Mound Thursday, May 23.

River Falls, the No. 9 seed, opened WIAA regional play this past Tuesday, May 28, at No. 8 Superior. The winner will face top-seeded Stevens Point Thursday, May 30, in Stevens Point.

Co-head coach Ryan Bishop said the Cats continued to struggle with consistency last week, but there were plenty of good things to build on heading into the playoffs.

"We closed out the regular season with some things to build on while moving forward into the post season," he said. "We still think our best baseball is ahead of us and look forward to the opportunity to make a run in the playoffs."

The highlight of the week came in the first game of last Tuesday's doubleheader when Witt fanned 10 Mustang batters without allowing a hit in a five-inning, 18-0 Wildcat win.

"James did a great job attacking their hitters and efficiently getting quick outs," Bishop said. "It was great to see us finally play a complete game from start to finish."

The Cats pounded out 16 hits at the plate, putting the game out of reach early with an 11-run second inning.

Michael Wesner had three hits, three RBI and scored three times and Sam Barr had a three-run double while Jon Krueger doubled twice and drove in two runs. Witt helped himself with two hits, including a double, and two RBI and Kyle Duex had two hits, including a double, and two RBI, while Mason Woiwode singled twice and drove in a pair of runs, Alex Call had two hits, including a double, and one RBI, and Logan Schmitt had a hit and two RBI.

Schmitt, Duex and Brady Stocker had the only Wildcat hits in the nightcap as the Mustangs turned the table on River Falls with a 9-0 victory.

Thursday, all eight Wildcat seniors were in the starting lineup for the Cats' final home game of the season, a 5-1 loss to Elk Mound.

"It was the last home game of the year, and of these seniors' careers, Bishop noted. "I'm proud of the consistent effort that these seniors have put in each day, regardless of their role on the team. It was great to see them all out on our home field one last time as a Wildcat."

The Cats only run came in the bottom of the first when Call led off with a double, stole third and scored on a groundout by Josh Rudesill.

Dylan Kusilek worked the first four innings on the mound, allowing five runs, two earned, on five hits with one walk and one strikeout. Jack Bruns pitched three hitless innings of relief, striking out one and walking two.

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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