Legion Baseball: Good start for Post 121
River Falls baseball coach Ryan Bishop and his players would have preferred to be playing at the WIAA State High School Tournament in Appleton last week. Instead, they traded their Wildcat jerseys for Post 121 uniforms and set their sights on reaching the American Legion State Tournament in July.
They got off to a good start, winning three of their first four games while outscoring their opponents 39-10 in the process.
After going 10-9 during the high school season, all but two of the Wildcats have transitioned over to Legion ball. They opened the summer season with a 7-3 victory over Prescott Monday, June 11, before dropping a close 5-4 decision to East Ridge the following night. They went on to defeat Totino-Grace, 10-2, Wednesday, June 13, and wrapped up the week with an 18-0 trouncing of Menomonie in their first road game Thursday, June 14.
"Of course we would like to still have been playing in the high school state tourney, but so would everyone else that didn't make it," Bishop said. "The task ahead is to now turn the page and focus on the next pitch. We've got some great competition lined up for the boys this summer. I'm looking forward to the challenges in front of us and what this summer brings to our team from a team building and development standpoint."
Post 121 will play six more games this week, including three at its home tournament this weekend. After 10 days off between the end of the high school season and last week's Legion opener, they got back in the swing of things with last Monday's 7-3 win over Prescott. All seven of River Falls runs came in the fifth inning, highlighted by a three-run homer by Adam Feyereisen.
"Kind of a slow start coming off the break," Bishop noted. "It took our bats a while to get going but it was good to see our offense finally break through. Adam's home run was as hard a hit ball as we've seen all year."
Charlie Griffin worked the first five innings on the mound to earn the win, allowing two earned runs on three hits with five strikeouts and two walks before Jackson Cleveland struck out five in two innings of relief.
"Charley did a nice job attacking their hitters and keeping us in the game until our bats warmed up," Bishop said.
Tuesday night, River Falls rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh but came up a run short in a 5-4 loss to East Ridge. Joe Stoffel held East Ridge to just two runs over five innings but Post 121 trailed 2-1 before East Ridge scored three in the top of the sixth.
Stoffel drew a bases-loaded walk to force in a run in the bottom of the seventh and Jake Bergmanis followed with a double to drive in two more but East Ridge threw out the tying run at the plate on the play to end the game.
"Joe did a nice job working against a very good offensive team, but so did their pitcher and unfortunately we just couldn't muster up much run support while Joe was in there," Bishop said. "It's always fun to play a team of East Ridge's caliber. We're always going to see good pitching and strong hitting, and have to play our best baseball to win. I thought we got better tonight regardless of the final score."
Lindsay, who had been sick for most of the high school season, returned to form the next night and threw a complete-game four-hitter while going 3-for-3 with a double at the plate to lead River Falls to a 10-2 victory over Totino Grace.
Cleveland had a two-run triple in the win while Lindsay, who was 100-percent healthy for the first time in a month, struck out seven and walked three.
"It was great to see a healthy Jake back on the mound tonight; it's been way too long," Bishop said. "We know what he's capable of, and tonight was a good indication of that against a good hitting team."
Thursday at Menomonie, 15 different players saw action in the field and three pitchers combined to allow four hits in Post 121's 18-0, five-inning victory over Menomonie's Post 32.
"No one likes to be in this lopsided of a game, but it did allow us to get a lot of younger guys some good playing time," Bishop said. "I was most proud of our guys for competing hard from the first pitch to the last regardless of the score. That's not always easy to do in a game like this."
River Falls visited Red Wing this past Monday and played Mahtomedi at home Tuesday after press time. They'll host Faribault in the first game of a Legion-Fighting Fish doubleheader Wednesday, June 13, at 5 p.m. with the Fish taking on New Richmond at 7:30 p.m.
This weekend Post 121 will open up its home tournament against Hudson Friday, June 22, at 7:30 p.m. and face Hamline Saturday, June 23, at 7 p.m. before taking on Ellsworth Sunday, June 24, at 4 p.m.