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American Legion baseball: Cancellation leads to opportunity

Daniel Peterson is shown delivering a pitch for the New Richmond Senior Legion team during a recent game in River Falls.

When their opponents canceled Thursday, June 29, the New Richmond Junior Legion baseball team was able to come up with another opponent, but the St. Croix Central Legion team wasn’t as fortunate.

The New Richmond Junior Legion team was scheduled to host Unity on Thursday when Coach Chris Riba got the call that Unity didn’t have enough players available.

Fortunately, New Richmond’s U14 baseball team had a practice scheduled for Thursday. A few phone calls were made and this turned into an entertaining event with the Junior Legion playing a doubleheader against the U14 team.

The Legion team won both of the games, but they were well played, competitive contests.

The U14 led the opening game through three innings, 3-1. The Legion team then hit its offensive stride, putting together an 11-run fourth inning. The game ended 12-3.

The second of the five-inning games was well played from start to finish. The Legion team squeaked by with a 3-1 win.

Varsity coach Travis Helland was on-hand throughout the night. He was making tracks from dugout to dugout, helping the boys on both teams.

“We’re going to try to figure out a day before playoffs to do it again,” Riba said of the good competition that sharpened the skills of both teams. “The kids had a blast. It was a great opportunity to teach and encourage.”

Caleb Stangl, Evan Iverson and Joey Kidder all had multihit games in the opener. Stangl came up with the game’s biggest-hit, a two-run double during the 11-run rally.

Eric Moberg started on the mound, with Kidder pitching the final two innings. Cooper Eckardt pitched the complete game in the second game, allowing four hits and striking out six. The Legion team was held to three hits, but was able to scratch out three runs.

This was the second schedule conflict of the week for the NR Juniors. They were scheduled to play at Rice Lake, but Rice Lake them informed them at late notice that the game would have to be moved back to an 8:15 p.m. start time. New Richmond politely refused.

The Junior Legion did get in one other game last week, playing at Hudson last Monday. New Richmond was limited to one hit in a 12-0 loss. Riba said the saving grace from the game was solid pitching from Nolan Eckert and Tim Salmon.

The Junior Legion resumes its schedule Thursday, playing at St. Croix Central at 5:30 p.m. They will play in a tournament at Superior on Saturday and Sunday. That’s followed by a game at Menomonie on Monday and a home game against Somerset next Tuesday.

New Richmond Seniors

The Senior team put together a very solid week, splitting a double-header with Mahtomedi and thumping Hudson.

The win at Hudson came Thursday, by a 17-8 score. New Richmond took charge early, building an 8-0 lead through four innings. Hudson kept trying to come back, but New Richmond locked up the win by Jake Jirik, Reese Lucas and Daniel Peterson split the pitching time in the win. Jirik, Hayden Bradbury, Noah Towberman and Ryan Kling all produced three-hit games.

The defense was also a strong point for New Richmond, including ending the game by turning a 6-4-3 double play.

In the opener of Tuesday’s games against Mahtomedi, New Richmond lost 10-5 in extra innings in the opener. The score was tied 4-4 after the seven innings that had been agreed upon. After a scoreless eighth, Mahtomedi scored six times in the top of the ninth, with New Richmond scoring once in the bottom of the frame. Mahtomedi qualified for the Minnesota state high school tournament this spring.

Kling pitched five solid innings, with the defense committing just one error. John Earley and Jack Bau led the offense with two hits each.

The defense was even better in the second game, which New Richmond won 13-5. With errorless defense behind them, Cole Eastep and Peterson combined to pitch a sevenhitter.

Earley and Bradbury both went 3-5 to lead the offense, which generated 15 hits. Jirik and Peterson both went 2-4.

The New Richmond Senior team hosts River Falls 6 p.m. Thursday Citizens Field. Like the Junior team, the Seniors will play in a tournament at Superior on Saturday and Sunday. The Seniors will play a doubleheader at Altoona Tuesday, July 11. 

Somerset

The Somerset boys saw their hot start to the summer cooled somewhat as they lost the three games they played last week.

On June 27, Somerset lost a pair of games at Baldwin by scores of 3-2 and 5-2. Pitching was a strong point in both games. Brett Vetterkind pitched the complete game in the opener for Somerset, allowing two earned runs. Charlie Folkert allowed two earned runs in the second game in another complete game effort.

Somerset nearly tied the second game in the bottom of the fifth inning, but Brady Wall’s blast that would have been a three-run homer was caught just in front of the fence.

Somerset played at Rice Lake on Thursday, June 29. The good news is that several pitchers who hadn’t gotten a chance to throw recently got some needed mound time. The bad news is, some of their rust showed. A good-hitting Rice Lake team won 14-0.

Somerset resumes its schedule Thursday with a home game against Bloomer. The final game of the regular season for Somerset will be played next Tuesday at New Richmond’s Citizens Field.

St. Croix Central

Cancellations have stunted the Central schedule this season. Central’s next game will be Thursday, hosting New Richmond. Central will play at Prescott on Sunday, before finishing its regular season with a home game against Clear Lake next Tuesday.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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