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Legion win six straight

fires a pitch to the plate against St. Paul Phalen in the Falls Classic American Legion Baseball Tournament Saturday at the high school fields. Witt picked up the complete game victory in a 10-9 River Falls win. Bob Burrows photo.

The River Falls American Legion baseball team won six of seven games it played last week, with its only loss coming in the championship game of the Falls Classic Tournament Sunday afternoon.

The locals swept a doubleheader from Menomonie last Tuesday and defeated New Richmond, 10-0 on Wednesday before going 3-1 at the Falls Classic, including a 4-0 no-hitter tossed by J.P. Feyereisen against a good Green Bay team Saturday afternoon.

Feyereisen's gem put River Falls into Sunday afternoon's championship game against Woodbury Blue, where it dropped its only game of the week by a score of 14-8.

"It really was a great weekend of baseball regardless of losing the championship game," head coach Ryan Bishop said. "Our guys battled hard while working on the fields in the heat between every single game. I was very proud of their effort both during the game and while hosting the tournament."

River Falls opened the tournament Friday night with a 10-2 win over Woodbury White behind as complete-game, six-hit effort by pitcher Jack Herum. Jack's older brother Marty drove in four runs with a single and a double and Alex Call doubled twice and drove in a pair of runs while Feyereisen had a two-run single to highlight a five-run fifth inning for the locals.

The team suffered a blow in the game when starting outfielder Nate Soley injured his hamstring.

"Nate has been our hottest hitters as of late and his absence in our lineup will no doubt be felt," Bishop said. "We hope to have him back for the playoffs."

In its first game Saturday morning, River Falls scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to erase a 9-6 deficit and hold on for a 10-9 win over St. Paul Phalen.

Marty Herum drove in five runs with a pair of two-run homers and an RBI single while Feyereisen and Isaac Witt had two hits apiece, including RBI singles in the sixth to highlight the locals' comeback.

Witt earned the complete game win on the mound, giving up nine runs on 14 hits while striking out four and walking four.

"Already short on pitchers, we really needed a big outing from Isaac and he gave us a gutsy complete game effort," Bishop said.

Feyereisen gave the pitching staff a boost in Saturday's second game by tossing a complete game no-hitter and hitting a two-run homer against what Bishop described as a very good Green Bay team. Feyereisen struck out 10 and walked four on the way to his first career no-hitter.

"J.P. just bore down and got after their hitters tonight," Bishop said. "He looked confident in all his pitches and that's not a good thing for opponents."

Feyereisen got some help when Spencer Kempf and Colin Pechacek both ran down long drives in the top of the seventh to keep the no-hitter intact.

"Those seventh inning dramatic catches just added to the excitement of the no hitter," Bishop said. "It was very neat to be a part of and something these guys will always remember."

Feyereisen gave himself all the runs he would need with a two-run homer in the first while Brad Erdrich added an RBI single in the third.

In the championship game against Woodbury Blue, River Falls trailed 9-8 in the fifth with runners on first and third, but a double play ended the inning and Woodbury went on to score four more runs with two outs in the sixth to hand the locals a 14-8 defeat.

Zach Balsiger hit a three-run home run in the third to cut Woodbury's lead to 7-4, and Pechacek hit a two-run shot in the fourth to make it a 9-7 game before Witt's RBI single in the fifth brought River Falls as close as it would get, 9-8.

Pechacek was 3-for-4 with a double, home run and two RBI and Marty Herum had three hits and one RBI. Erdrich added three hits and Feyereisen had two as River Falls outhit Woodbury, 16-14.

"We had some opportunities but just didn't execute well enough in the field at times," Bishop said. "But tip your hat to very good Woodbury team. They made our mistakes hurt and in those big games that's often times what it comes down to."

Jake Kerr took the loss on the mound, going six innings and giving up 13 runs (7 earned) on 13 hits while striking out none and walking six. Erdrich gave up one in the seventh on one hit and three walks.

"Jake gave us everything he had out there today which is all you can ask," Bishop said. "He just left a couple pitches up in the zone and good hitters will take advantage like they did."

Last Tuesday River Falls swept Menomonie, 10-3 and 10-5, in a doubleheader at Menomonie.

Erdrich and Ryan Kusilek each drove in a pair of runs while Josh Halling worked the first five innings on the mound to earn the win in the opener. Kerr picked up the complete game win in the nightcap, while Feyereisen had three hits, including a double, and four RBI.

The six wins last week upped River Falls' record to 14-2 on the season and moved it up to No. 5 in this week's Wisconsin American Legion poll. It plays at Eau Claire Thursday before hosting the River Falls Fighting Fish in the 4th annual Battle of the Bats exhibition game Monday, July 18, a 6 p.m. The evening also serves as a salute to the River Falls Youth Baseball community with a free barbeque provided by Bo's 'N Mine of River Falls.

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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