The road to another Wisconsin American Legion Class AA state championship got a little tougher for River Falls Post 121 over the weekend.
River Falls, the defending Class AA state champs, had its 10-game winning streak snapped in the first round of the double-elimination regional tournament in Black River Falls Friday, July 19, with a 5-4, extra-inning loss to New Richmond.
"We had stretches of good baseball, but didn't compete to our level of expectations for seven complete innings," Post 121 head coach Ryan Bishop said. "And because of that our path to win the regional just got a lot harder."
River Falls fell behind 4-0 after two innings before scoring four runs in the bottom of the fourth to tie the score and pushing the go-ahead run across in the top of the eighth
It was the first win in three tries for New Richmond against River Falls this season. Post 121 moved into the loser's bracket of the double elimination tournament and was scheduled to face Black River Falls, 6-4 losers to Tomah, in an elimination game Saturday, July 20, but all of Saturday's action was rained out.
New Richmond scored an unearned run in the top of the first and three more in the second before River Falls tied it up in the bottom of the fourth on a lead-off double by Tyler Penny and three straight singles by Cole Evavold, James Westhoff and Jaden Schwantz.
River Falls left two runners on in the bottom of the sixth but didn't get another baserunner while New Richmond scored the go-ahead run on a two out double and base hit in the top of the eighth.
"It's always tough to lose an extra inning game, but even tougher to swallow when we feel it should have never gotten to extra innings," Bishop said. "We missed some early opportunities in the field and on the base paths that would have definitely changed the game."
Joe Stoffel worked the first six innings on the mound, allowing four runs, three earned, on five hits with seven strikeouts and six walks. Jake Lindsay took the loss, allowing one run on three hits in two innings of work. Schwantz, Adam Feyereisen, Penny and Westhoff had two hits each at the plate.
Post 121 ended the regular season with its 10th straight victory Tuesday, July 16, at First National Bank of River Falls Field.
Five different pitchers saw action, including Jaden Schantz, who also hit a two-run homer, as River Falls posted an 11-1 win over St. Paul Park.
Schwantz's home run came in the third inning to give River Falls an 8-0 lead. He allowed St. Paul Park's only run of the game in the top of the fifth before Stoffel doubled home Feyereisen in the bottom of the fifth to invoke the 10-run mercy rule. Schwantz finished with three hits and three runs scored in the win while Stoffel and Penny drove in a pair of runs each.
Charlie Griffin pitched a scoreless first inning to earn the win and was followed by Lindsay, Ragan Pinnow, Penny and Schwantz, who worked an inning apiece.
Bishop said despite the first round regional loss, the team's focus remains the same.
"Our goal this summer has been to compete every single pitch, whatever your capacity is at that moment," he said. "When we do that, collectively, we're a tough team to beat. We continue to strive for consistency in our pitch to pitch competition."
Check www.riverfallsjournal.com for complete regional results.