Legion playoffs will be a challenge for NR boys
It has already been a successful summer for the New Richmond Post 80 American Legion baseball team.
The New Richmond boys have locked up the championship in the Southern Division of the St. Croix League in their first year in Legion ball.
This weekend the New Richmond team will try to qualify for the American Legion AA state tournament. New Richmond's team will be one of seven teams competing in a AA regional tournament this weekend in Medford.
New Richmond's first game in the double-elimination tournament will be played at 10 a.m. on Friday. They will face the winner of Thursday's game between Rhinelander and Merrill.
In this tournament the New Richmond boys will be playing at a slight disadvantage. By playing in the AA level, they will be facing teams that have 2008 graduates on their rosters. The St. Croix League did not include graduating seniors on their teams.
New Richmond's team currently has an 18-5 record and has only lost once in league play. New Richmond added another impressive win last Tuesday when it won at Prescott, 4-0. The Prescott team did have four 2008 graduates on its team, but that didn't prove a problem for New Richmond.
Nick Swystun pitched the seven-inning shutout for New Richmond. Swystun struck out seven hitters. One of his strengths as a pitcher is his pitch location. He did not walk a batter in the game and he only went to a three-ball count three times during the game.
New Richmond scored its first run in the second inning when Aaron Kohlrusch tripled and scored on Jared Kidder's groundout.
New Richmond gradually added to its lead with runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Logan Jensen scored in the fifth inning, coming home on Jordan Maxon's squeeze bunt single. The run in the sixth inning was produced by singles from Swystun and Sam Skatrud. Jack Johnston singled and scored on Jeremy Slicer's groundout in the seventh inning.
One area where the players on the Legion team have shown steady progress this season has been on defense. Skatrud was moved to catcher midway through the season, helping to solidify the position. Coach Mark Kohlrusch said Dylan Leslie has been his most consistent outfielder on defense this season.