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Legion streak snapped at four

River Falls' Mason Woiwode is safe at home on the front end of a double steal to give his American Legion Post 121 team a 4-0 lead over Hudson in the first inning of the team's game against Hudson last Tuesday at the high school field. River Falls pulled out the old American Legion baseball uniforms from the 1980s for what they billed as "Throwback Night." (River Falls Journal photos by Bob Burrows)1 / 2
River Falls' pitcher Jake Halling fires a pitch to the plate in the third inning of the Post 121 baseball team's 14-4 victory over Hudson last Tuesday at the high school field. Halling pitched 4 1/3 innings to earn the win.2 / 2

The River Falls American Legion Post 121 baseball team had its four game winning streak snapped when it dropped the second game of a doubleheader at Altoona Monday night, 2-1.

The Legion took the first game 3-1 for their fourth win in a row. Last week, they defeated Menomonie, 13-3, Monday; Hudson, 14-4 on Tuesday; and Chippewa Falls, 5-4, Wednesday night.

This past Monday night's twin bill at Altoona featured a pair of pitchers' duels, with River Falls' throwing six innings of one-hit ball in the first game win and Kyle Duex allowing just four hits over seven innings in the nightcap. Unfortunately River Falls couldn't get the timely hit when it needed it, despite out hitting Altoona 6-4, and dropped a 2-1 decision.

"Kyle Duex settled in nicely and competed well," Post 121 coach Mark Hallberg said. "Our team didn't execute real well with runners in scoring position and less than two outs, and it came back to get us in the end. To Altoona's credit they made some nice plays at big times in the game."

Logan Schmidt accounted for three of River Falls' six hits, including a double in the third inning and an RBI single in the fifth to drive in Tyler Eliason for the only River Falls run of the game.

Duex allowed a run in the first before holding Altoona scoreless until the seventh. He finished with two strikeouts and two walks.

Stocker held Altoona hitless until the sixth inning of the opener before James Witt came in to shut the door in the seventh and preserve a 3-1 River Falls victory.

"Brady Stocker pitched a great game," Hallberg said. "He really attacked the zone and utilized our defense effectively."

River Falls took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first when Schmidt singled, Sam Barr doubled and Jon Krueger walked to load the bases before Duex singled to drive in Schmidt and Barr.

Post 121 extended its lead to 3-0 in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Brian Grove that allowed Eliason to score from second.

The Legion got some revenge at Chippewa Falls last Wednesday as Witt threw six innings of shutout ball and Barr had three hits, including the game-winning RBI double in the top of the ninth, to give River Falls a 5-4 victory.

"James Witt pitched a great ball game and our defense played well including a couple web gems from third baseman Tyler Eliason," Hallberg said. "Sam Barr, one of our leaders, had the big walk-off double that burnt Chippewa."

River Falls led 4-0 after seven thanks to an RBI single by Krueger in the first, a pair of unearned runs in the fourth and an RBI groundout by Krueger in the seventh.

Chippewa Falls rallied for three runs in the top of the eighth and tied the score in the ninth, but Michael Wesner led off the bottom of the ninth with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Grove, and after Schmidt flied out to right, Barr delivered the game-winning double to make the final 5-4.

Last Tuesday night the Post 121 team hosted Hudson for "Throwback Night," donning the old American Legion uniforms from the 1980s and piping period music between innings. The result was a 14-4, six-inning victory, highlighted by a three-hit, three RBI night from Duex.

"Throwback night was a fun night for our guys," Hallberg said. "We extend our gratitude to the students and community members who came out to support. Our team played a good game and we hit the ball extremely well. We executed well with runners in scoring position and had a good approach at the plate."

Grove contributed two hits and two RBI in the victory and Krueger and Woiwode each drove in a pair of runs while Barr had two hits, one RBI and scored three times and Stocker, Eliason and Wesner drove in a run apiece.

Jake Halling picked up the win on the mound, allowing two earned runs on five hits with four strikeouts and four walks in 4 1/3 innings of work.

The Post 121 team will play in a tournament in Princeton, Minn. this weekend.

"We are still young and hopefully our guys continue to stay motivated and gain confidence from this small taste of success," Hallberg said about the four-game win streak. "To our players' credit, the guys are working hard and showing improvements."

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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