By Reagan Hoverman
The River Falls High School baseball team donned throwback uniforms from the 1980s during its Friday night home game against Tartan at First National Bank Stadium in River Falls.
The exquisite uniforms and stellar play on the diamond for the Wildcat boys propelled the team to a 13 3 victory via the 10 run rule over the visiting Tartan Titans of Oakdale, Minn. With the win, River Falls improved to 10 5 for the
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The win was River Falls’ fourth in its last six games. The Wildcats wasted no time getting on the board. After a scoreless first inning, the Wildcats began the second inning with two walks. That’s when junior outfielder Eli Condon roped a two RBI double to the left field gap to get the scoring started for the Cats.
Two batters later, senior third baseman Ryan Langer hit an RBI double off the fence in right field to give River Falls a 3 0 advantage. Later in the inning, the Titans tried to pick off a runner at third. An errant throw on the plate scored the runner standing up which gave River Falls a 4 0 lead after the two opening frames.
After marginal scoring by both teams in the middle innings of the game, River Falls took a 5 3 lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning. That’s when the River Falls offense found its groove.
River Falls scored four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and then tacked on another four in the bottom of the sixth inning to close the game out against the Titans. Senior pitcher Jeffrey Schurman got the win on the mound for the Wildcats. He pitched four innings and allowed only two hits and one earned run in his outing.
The aforementioned Langer and Condon led the charge for River Falls offensively. Langer went 2 4 at the plate with three RBIs. Condon also tallied three RBIs for the day. After the game, River Falls head coach Ryan Bishop spoke about the win.
“You get to the end of the week on a busy week for both teams, we feel like we have good pitching depth, and that puts us in a better spot than some teams, come fourth and fifth games in a week,” Bishop said. “Regardless of who you play, it’s baseball and anything can happen. I thought it was a close game to start, our guys stayed positive and stayed the course, and then our guys put it away.”
River Falls has made stealing bags and putting pressure on the defense a priority this season and for the most part, Bishop’s ros ter has done exactly that. On Friday night, the aforementioned Schurman stole a base that put him in scoring position and helped get River Falls on the board early.
“I would say that we’ve been (stealing bases) pretty well throughout the season,” Bishop said. “We want to take advantage and put pressure on the defense any opportunity we get. Tonight, they gave us a few opportunities, our guys ran the bases well and took extra bases when they had the opportunities to.”
While Bishop was happy with the win over a non conference opponent, he was also happy with the uniform decision for the night with the vintage 1980s era River Falls High School baseball uniforms and coaches’ jackets. He spoke about getting the oppor tunity to wear a piece of history for a game.
“It was a fun night and a fun atmosphere to throw it back a bit,” Bishop said. “I know the guys had a fun time with these throwbacks. They enjoyed putting them on and they know there is a bit of history in these threads. They really like them and want to keep them and wear them more.”
No official date could be given, but Bishop believes that the uniforms are from the 1980s. Bishop said that the uniforms came out of storage and were game worn from more than three decades ago.
Wildcats' weekly recap: Two losses to Eau Claire North
In addition to the game against Tartan on Friday night, River Falls also played three other games during the week. The Wild
cats played their season series against Eau Claire North on Tues
day and Thursday, both losses with scores of 4 5 and 2 9 on those days respectively. Bishop spoke about those games.
“We saw exactly what this team is capable of on Tuesday night (4 5) and we saw what can happen when you’re not consistent with your effort on and off the field on Thursday night (2 9) and it was a totally different story,” Bishop said. “Tuesday was a heartbreaker. We were in charge in six of the seven innings. It felt like it was our game and it was down to the last pitch.”
Bishop said that North snuck a ground ball through the infield to tie the game and then it didn't go their way the rest of the game. Bishop said that it felt like some of the disappointment from that heartbreaking loss on Tuesday carried over to the game on Thurs day night.
“I don’t think we quite recovered from (Tuesday night’s loss),” Bishop said. “We weren’t locked in for that second game. We did
n’t deserve to have a chance to win that game. We weren’t pre pared mentally and emotionally to be able to rely on the physical part of the game. Those are learning games and we just have to be better in all facets of the game when we play good teams.”
Eau Claire North is no sorry opponent. The Huskies are ranked fifth in the state and River Falls had them on the ropes in the first game of the season series on Tuesday night. River Falls has demonstrated it can compete with any program on this side of the state when they bring their A game.
“We’re comfortable with the lineup we can put on the field,” Bishop said. “We’re just striving for consistency day in and day
out from first pitch to the last. If we are consistent with our abil ities, we can be a very good team. But we haven’t done that consistently enough this year.”
After the Friday night game, River Falls had a quick turn around with a Saturday afternoon game on the road against Eau Claire Memorial. The Old Abes defeated River Falls 4 1 in that game. The loss dropped the Wildcats to 10 6 overall and 4 5 in Big Rivers action.
Up next for River Falls is a BRC game on the road against Menomonie, a team that hasn’t won a single game in conference play this season. That game is slated to begin at 5 p.m. May 17.