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American Legion baseball teams nearing playoffs

New Richmond's Cooper Eckardt (8) lines out a hit during last week's double-header against North St. Paul.

Want proof the summer is flying by quickly?

The American Legion baseball teams are winding up their regular seasons, with their playoffs on the horizon.

The New Richmond Junior Legion team begins the playoffs this Friday and the St. Croix Central Senior Legion team and New Richmond Senior teams competing in the  state playoffs next week.

New Richmond Senior

The busy season continued last week and into this week for the New Richmond Senior team. Last week they played six games in four days. That started with a home doubleheader against North St. Paul. New Richmond won the opener, 7-5, and NSP took the second game, 7-4. Noah Kirchoff led New Richmond in the opener with three hits, which drove home four runs. Ryan Kling pitched 6.1 innings to get the win, with Braeden Gefeke recording the save.

New Richmond was limited to three hits in the second game. Eric Moberg gave a valiant pitching effort before tiring in the sixth inning, giving up four late runs.

New Richmond’s defense struggled all night last Tuesday, leading to a pair of losses to Altoona. The opener ended 10-6 and the second game finished 16-9. Charlie Thibodeau and James Schutte were brought up from the Junior team to pitch the opener. Kling had three hits to lead the offense in that game.

Fred Riba led the offense in the second game by driving home four runs.

That led into a home twinbill against a strong Totino-Grace team Thursday. New Richmond won the opener, 6-5. Gefeke pitched the first five innings for the win, with Reece Lucas handling the final two innings.

New Richmond ended the week by sweeping a pair of games at Ellsworth on Sunday, 12-6 and 15-2. Lucas and Moberg combined to pitch the opener, a conference game. Talon Seckora led the offense with three hits. Kling pitched the second game. He also produced three hits, as did Hayden Bradbury.

Coach Travis Helland said several young players have used the summer to improve their stock, including Bradbury, Riba, Cooper Eckardt and Brandon Gaspord in that group. Gaspord moved from third base to shortstop and the coaches have been impressed with his work. Gaspord said the change between the two positions is big. He said at third base you rely upon reflexes.

“At shortstop, it’s relying on all you’ve learned,” he said.

The Senior Legion team will host Menomonie on Thursday and Prescott on Sunday. The regular season ends with home games against Mahtomedi next Monday.

The Senior team will play in its state playoffs beginning on July 19 at Menomonie, with a 2:30 p.m. game to start the round-robin tournament, with River Falls being the third team in the playoff.

New Richmond Junior

The Post 80 Junior team had its only action last week in a makeup doubleheader at Prescott on Friday. They split the games, with Prescott winning the opener, 14-4, and New Richmond taking the second game, 6-2.

New Richmond struggled defensively in the opening game. Josh Mottl was the offensive leader with a pair of hits.

The defense improved significantly in the second game. Carson Smith pitched five strong innings to get the win, striking out three batters. Matt Harle and Charlie Thibodeau each had one hit to lead the offense.

The New Richmond Junior team finishes its regular season this week. It hosts Amery on Tuesday and Chippewa Falls on Wednesday for doubleheaders. The final regular season game will be at Bloomer on Thursday.

The Post 80 Junior team will compete in the state playoffs, starting Friday, at Casper Park in Chippewa Falls. New Richmond opens the tournament by facing Superior at noon. Saturday’s schedule depends upon the results from Friday.

St. Croix Central Senior

The Post 432 teams didn’t have any games last week, but that gave them more time to prepare to host the Class A regional playoffs. Central and Baldwin will co-host the regional tournament from July 20-23. Each team will host one game that Friday and two games Saturday and Sunday. Teams joining Central and Baldwin in the tournament are Spooner, Plum City and Altoona.

The Central Senior team plays at Baldwin this Thursday and hosts Ellsworth on Sunday. It concludes the regular season next Tuesday with a home date against Osceola. Central’s Junior team will complete its schedule with a home game against Spring Valley on July 19.

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 more than 30 years.

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