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Graetz goes deep in Cats' win over Mustangs

Wildcat senior Mason Graetz is greeted at home plate after hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to put the finishing touches on the Cats' 4-1 victory over Menomonie Tuesday, April 18 at First National Bank of River Falls Field. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia

Mason Graetz didn't want to over do it after being sick for the Wildcats' last two games.

All he did in his return was smack an RBI double and a two-run homer to account for three of the Cats' four runs in their 4-1 victory over Menomonie Tuesday, April 18, at First National Bank of River Falls Field.

“It feels good,” the senior left fielder said. “It feels good to be back with the team and help them out a little bit.”

While Graetz was providing the bulk of the Wildcat offense, classmate Jaxin Larson twirled a complete-game one hitter for his second pitching victory to improve to 2-0 on the year. Larson needed just 68 pitches in his second complete game of the season while striking out three and walking two.

“I felt good,” Larson said. “I was just trying to keep my arm loose between innings with the cold and my curveball was working really well in the wind.”

Graetz followed a first-inning walk to Zach Hadizma with a double to right-center to give the Wildcats an early 1-0 lead.

Larson allowed his only hit in the top of the fifth when Menomonie tied the score 1-1, but the Wildcats' aggression on the base paths gave them the lead for good in the bottom of the inning when Bailey Ronnestrand walked, moved to third on a stolen base and error, and stole home on the back end of a double steal.

Hadzima reached first on an error to lead off the bottom of the sixth before Graetz knocked his first home run of the season over the 16-foot right field wall to extend the Wildcat lead to 4-1.

“It was kind of in my wheel house, high and inside,” the lefty said. “I don't do that very often but it felt good.”

After Menomonie tied the score in the top of the fifth inning, Larson noticed some action in the Wildcat bullpen and responded by retiring the final six Mustangs he faced.

“I didn't want to go out,” he said. “It got me energized; I didn't want to let them in the game.”

The win kept the Wildcats undefeated in BRC play at 3-0 (4-1 overall) heading into a rematch with the Mustangs Thursday, April 20, in Menomonie. The Cats will host Osceola in a nonconference game Friday, April 21, at 4:30 p.m.

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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