The defending state champion River Falls Post 121 baseball team picked up right where it left off last week at the Wisconsin American Legion Class AA State Tournament in Mauston that kicked off Friday, July 25.
River Falls shut out New London 8-0 in a rematch of last year's state title game in the first round, fueled by six innings of two-hit ball by Joe Stoffel and a three RBI day from Adam Feyereisen.
In Saturday's second round against Antigo, River Falls posted its fifth straight postseason shutout with a 2-0 victory to advance to face Holmen in a state semifinal game Sunday, July 28. The winner gets at automatic berth in Tuesday's state championship game while the loser will have to win a game Monday to earn its way.
Last Friday against New London, Post 121 scored all eight of its runs in the first two innings while Stoffel struck out eight batters in six innings of work.
"Our guys picked up where they left off last weekend and came out full throttle to set the tone," head coach Ryan Bishop said. "Joe had everything working and made life tough for their hitters."
River Falls jumped out to a 3-0 first inning lead on a lead-off single by Jaden Schwantz, back-to-back one-out doubles by Feyereisen and Stoffel, and a wild pitch.
Tyler Penny led off the bottom of the second with a base hit and Cole Evavold reached on an error before both scored on a triple by No. 9 hitter James Westhoff. Feyereisen smacked a two-run homer later in the inning to boost River Falls' lead to 8-0.
Stoffel, meanwhile was all business on the mound. He got a strikeout with runners on second and third to end the second inning and retired 12 of the next 14 batters he faced before being relieved by Andrew Aderman, who worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh to keep the shut out intact.
Saturday River Falls recorded just two hits against Antigo, this year's WIAA Division 2 state champs, while Jake Lindsay scattered six hits on the mound and Post 121 played errorless defense behind him.
"Jake threw the ball with confidence," Bishop said, "A confidence that was contagious to everyone around him."
The game was knotted at zero until River Falls manufactured both of its runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Lindsay was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and moved to second on a one-out single by Westhoff, Post 121's only hit of the inning.
Michael Krueger hit a hard smash up the middle that was ruled an error, allowing Lindsay to score from second, before Westhoff scored on the back end of a double steal with Krueger taking second.
River Falls turned a 4-6-3 double play to get out of a jam in the top of the sixth and catcher Jake Bergmanis threw out a runner trying to steal for the second out of the seventh before Lindsay recorded his seventh strikeout to end the game.
"Our coaching staff was so proud of the way our guys competed tonight from the first pitch to the last," Bishop said. "Antigo's a very good team filled with college players on top of a team that won this spring's D2 high school state championship. It was a fun atmosphere, and a great game to be a part of on a big time stage."