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Post 121 moves to 9-2 with five straight wins

River Falls’ Michael Krueger beats the throw home to give the Post 121 team a 4-0 lead in its American Legion baseball opener against Red Wing Wednesday, June 12, at First National Bank of River Falls Field. It was part of a five-run second inning for River Falls on its way to a 14-1 season-opening victory. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia

After a 5-3 loss to Fond du Lac in the first game of the Falls Classic on Friday, June 21, the River Falls American Legion Post 121 baseball team defeated Hudson and East Ridge to finish 2-1 atop its home tourney. The team defeated Hudson 4-0 on Saturday, June 22, and East Ridge by a score of 4-2 on Sunday, June 23, at First National Bank of River Falls Field.

"Charley (Griffin) and Cole (Evavold) both did a nice job attacking the zone with multiple pitches against Hudson. Joe (Stoffel) did a great job keeping (the East Ridge) hitters in check. He located and mixed pitches, and was tough on a good hitting team," said coach Ryan Bishop. "It was a nice end to a fun weekend of good competition."

According to Bishop, Griffin left the game following the fourth inning after popping a blister on the tip of his middle finger on his throwing hand, which led to Evavold finishing the game. Bishop was particularly proud of his team's win against East Ridge, who hadn't lost yet this summer since winning the Minnesota high school state championship a couple weeks ago.

Post 121 had just six hits against Hudson, but it was enough to drive in four runs and get the win on the back of a four-hitter between Griffin and Evavold. Griffin collected five strikeouts and walked two in four innings, while Evavold struck out two and walked two. Six different batters had hits in the game, with Joe Stoffel crossing home plate twice for Post 121. The team put across three runs in the first and another one in the third.

Against East Ridge, Post 121 was led by Stoffel, who pitched seven innings of four-hit ball, striking out nine batters and walking just two batters. The offense was led by Regan Pinnow and Evavold, who each had two of the team's seven hits.

Those wins, along with a 12-4 win over Faribault, moved the team to 7-2 on the season heading into a weekend tournament in Chippewa.

"We had a mix of junior and senior Legion players who weren't at the UMD team football camp. We threw six different pitchers — with each getting 1-2 innings each — to make sure everyone is ready for the weekend's four-game tourney for both teams," Bishop said. "It was nice to see our young guys come out swinging and set the tone for the game at the plate."

Post 121 scored seven runs in the first two innings, Bishop said, which set the tone for the rest of the game. Pinnow picked up the win throwing a scoreless first inning, while Jacob Landgraf threw the second and third, John Conway threw the fourth, Kyle Thompson threw the fifth, Brayden Engstrom threw the sixth and Tyler Penny threw the seventh. All four runs were credited to Conway. Pinnow went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI to lead the team.

The team traveled to Chippewa on Saturday, June 29, for the Chippewa Woodbat Tournament to take on Wausau and Oconomowoc before having Sunday's matches rained out. Post 121 picked up a 9-2 win over Wausau before knocking off Oconomowoc by a score of 9-0.

"Both Joe Stoffel and Charley Griffin had efficient outings to pick up the complete game wins. Our hitters made good strides swinging wood bats as the games went on," Bishop said. "As we hit the midway point of the season we continue to learn and build as our team grows both on and off the field. Our coaching staff is looking forward to what July holds in store for us."

Post 121 scored a single run in the first inning before Wausau could scored its two runs in the bottom of the fourth. River Falls added six runs in the fifth and then another two in the seventh to pick up the win. Stoffel allowed just two runs on four hits while striking out three over seven innings against Wausau. The offense was led by Jaden Schwantz, who went 3-for-5, and Michael Krueger, who went 2-for-3. The team totaled nine runs on seven hits.

River Falls also picked up the first run of the game against Oconomowoc with a run in the first, before scoring again in the third to make it 2-0. The team added another seven runs throughout the rest of the game. Griffin allowed just three hits, walked two and struck out three over seven innings on the mound. Stoffel led the offense, going 4-for-5 in the game, while Schwantz and Krueger added three hits apiece in five at bats. The team totaled 15 hits in the game.

Post 121 continues its season with a game at New Richmond on Tuesday, July 2, before getting a five-day break for the Fourth of July.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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