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The point of American Legion baseball: strong competition

New Richmond Senior Legion coach Travis Helland (left) talks with outfielders Reece Lucas, Nolan Eckert and Noah Kirchoff between innings of a recent game.

The competition just got stronger as the New Richmond American Legion Senior team worked through a grueling five games in three days last week.

The grueling stretch started with a double-header at Altoona and it was followed by a game at River Falls on Wednesday. The toughest team Post 80 may face all summer came to New Richmond on Thursday, when the state high school champion from Stillwater visited.

New Richmond won one of the five games, but in terms of conference competition, it was the most important of the games. New Richmond won the opening game at Altoona on Tuesday, 2-0. This was the only game of the week that counted in the Three Rivers Legion League standings.

New Richmond won behind outstanding pitching from Eric Moberg.

“He made the big pitches to get out of jams,” said New Richmond athletic director Casey Eckardt, who was serving as one of the team’s coaches for the week.

Noah Kirchoff came through with a double for the big hit in the New Richmond win.

With five games in such a short span, New Richmond had to use less experienced pitchers in several games. That was the case in the second game at Altoona, which New Richmond lost, 13-2. Cooper Eckardt had two of the three New Richmond hits in the loss.

The game Wednesday was an excellent battle, with New Richmond losing, 8-7. A couple defensive mistakes hurt New Richmond’s chances in this game. Ryan Kling pitched five strong innings.

Hayden Bradbury produced three hits and Drew Momchilovich had two hits in the loss.

Reece Lucas and Cole Eastep got the pitching starts against the powerful Stillwater squad on Thursday. Both saw firsthand how good Stillwater’s hitters are, as New Richmond lost, 13-1 and 12-1. Coach Eckardt said these are games New Richmond will benefit from, especially the pitchers.

“You’ve got to face really good hitters to learn how to get them out,” he said.

This is another busy week for the New Richmond Senior squad. They host North St. Paul on Monday and Altoona on Tuesday. They’re also home Thursday, against Totino-Grace, before travelling to Ellsworth on Sunday.

New Richmond Juniors

The Post 80 Juniors won a wild game at Barron Thursday, 13-11. New Richmond got a strong pitching start from Gabe Melby, who struck out seven in four innings.

“Gabe’s curveball was working well, he threw strikes and kept the pressure on hitters all game,” said New Richmond coach Mark Smith.

Charlie Thibodeau had another monster offensive game, going 4-5 at the plate, including a triple. He scored three runs.

“Charlie is hitting the ball great this season and driving it all over the park. He is always the first one at batting practice and I love his determination to continually improve,’ Smith said.

Errors and walks cost New Richmond when Post 80 played at River Falls on Wednesday, resulting in a 15-3 loss.

The Junior team now is off until Monday, July 9, when it hosts River Falls.

St. Croix Central

The Central Senior Legion team was rained out last Tuesday, so Central’s only game of the week was when the Junior team traveled to Prescott on Thursday. It wasn’t a successful trip, with Prescott winning, 12-5.

Trent Nippoldt, Mason Dado and Josh Woodington drove home runs for Post 432. Dado delivered a triple for Central’s big hit of the game. Spencer Trainor was Central’s most effective pitcher, recording four outs and only allowing one hit.

Central has a light schedule for the holiday week. The only game scheduled is for the Seniors on Monday against Chippewa Falls.

Somerset

The abbreviated Somerset Legion schedule ended last Thursday with a 12-4 loss at St. Croix Falls. The short schedule was chopped even more by opponent cancellations. Somerset was left with four games on its schedule, finishing 2-2.

Somerset had offensive highlights Thursday, but the defensive showing was a lowlight. Nick Swanson, Ryan Kelly and Will Piletich all went 2-3 at the plate for Post 111. Piletich also stole two bases and he provided the pitching highlight, flinging three scoreless innings.

Somerset’s defense committed six errors, which led to seven unearned runs for SCF.

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.

(715) 426-1051
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