After wins over Superior and Hudson to claim a Division 1 regional title, the River Falls baseball team couldn’t get past one of the best pitchers in the state in the sectional semifinals against Eau Claire Memorial.
The fourth-seeded Wildcats defeated No. 5 Superior, 6-1, Tuesday night, June 15 at and took a rubber match against top-seeded Hudson, 10-7, in the regional title game two nights later but lost to No. 3 seed Eau Claire Memorial for the third time this season, 9-3, in Monday night’s sectional semifinal.
The Old Abes went on to rout D.C. Everest, 10-0, in five innings in the sectional final to earn a berth in this weekend’s state tournament while the Wildcats’ season came to an end with a record of 11-9.
River Falls’ coach Ryan Bishop said the Cats faced a huge challenge Monday against Eau Claire Memorial ace Vince Trapani, who’s fastball was clocked between 91 and 94 miles-per hour early in the game.
“Our guys battled their tails off against a really tough pitcher,” Bishop said. “We created some opportunities but we were one big hit away from truly closing the gap.”
Michael Krueger and Ragan Pinnow had first inning singles against Trapani but were left stranded and the Old Abes got a lead-off home run in the bottom of the inning to take a quick lead.
Pinnow had a two-run double in the third but by that time Memorial had put five runs on the board. The score was 9-2 in the seventh when Jack Gehl reached on a two-base error and later scored on a groundout by Sam Cleveland.
After reaching the sectional semifinal and ending the season with a record of 11-9, Bishop said the Wildcats have plenty to be proud of.
“To play in a Division 1 sectional with a state tournament berth on the line is not an easy place to get to,” he said. “You have to be peaking at the right time and win some big games along the way. Our coaching staff is so proud of where this year's team ended after two short months and not having a season in nearly two years.”