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home : sports : sports September 15, 2014


5/22/2013 2:51:00 PM
Warriors baseball squad starts regional play Friday
Dave Greschner
Sports editor

After playing 12 games-their entire Big Rivers schedule-in 14 days, the Rice Lake Warriors are ready for regional baseball.
That packed 2 weeks of facing Division 1 teams produced four wins for the Warriors, who now drop into Division 2 for postseason play.
"We're ready. We took batting practice today and that was enough," said Warriors coach Mike Neil on Tuesday night.
In their abbreviated schedule over the cold and snowy spring, the Warriors went 5-9 in all games and 4-8 in the Big Rivers. The regional route begins Friday with a 1 p.m. home game against Northwestern, winless in the Heart o' North Conference.
The Warriors are a No. 3 regional seed, with No. 2 Ashland getting a first-round bye and awaiting the Rice Lake vs. Northwestern winner. The game in Ashland is Tuesday.
Rice Lake had to settle for the No. 3 seed because of its 8-6 loss to Ashland in Rice Lake in late April. The Warriors led that game 6-2 late before a series of mistakes helped the Oredockers rally and win in extra innings.
"We're prepared to go to Ashland," said Neil. "We had another game like that go the other way when we came back and won. Both games were learning experiences."
Neil was referring to last week's game at Eau Claire North when the Huskies rallied for a tie after trailing 5-1. Rice Lake then pushed across the winning run in the eighth inning for a 6-5 victory.
Also in the regional, Hayward is the No. 1 seed and has a first-round bye. The Hurricanes will host a game Tuesday against either Spooner or Siren/Webster.
Rice Lake split a doubleheader in its regular season final action Monday at Chippewa Falls, winning 7-0 and losing 13-12.
The Warriors rode the arm of senior Tyler Ball in the first game. The side-armer went all seven innings for the complete game shutout on a four-hitter.
Ball, who will probably start Friday's game, struck out eight and walked two.
"Tyler threw fantastic. He's our ace," said Neil, who added that he can also count on hurlers Hunter Ashlin and Patrick Rankin in the postseason.
The Warriors got all the runs they needed for Ball with a four-spot in the first inning. Lead-off hitter and shortstop Turner Swanson started his four for five game with a single, followed by Harrison Widdes' single.
After an error, Colten Weinberger singled and Rankin doubled with the bases loaded, driving in three runs.
The Warriors made it 5-0 in the third inning on Ashlin's solo home run, the first of the season for the freshman hitting .400 in conference play, said Neil.
Ashlin and Swanson singled in Rice Lake's two-run sixth inning.
The Warriors fell behind 12-4 in the second game before rallying to tie the game at 12-12 in the fifth inning. But the Cardinals scored an unearned run on a throwing error in the seventh for the win.
Ashlin had three more hits in the second game, and Swanson, Widdes, Chris Pankonien and Ryan Neil had two each. One of Neil's hits was a home run, his second of the season and eighth for the team.
Colten Weinberger leads the Warriors with three home runs, followed by two each from Neil and Swanson.
Pankonien took the pitching loss as he got jumped on for nine runs over the first three innings. Alex Kempf and Rankin pitched strong in relief.
Chippewa Falls is 3-7 in the Big Rivers and plays a doubleheader Thursday against Eau Claire Memorial, 8-2. Memorial dropped out of the Big Rivers title race Tuesday when Hudson (11-1) clinched the championship with a pair of wins over Eau Claire North, 4-2 and 5-3.
Memorial won two games in Rice Lake last Friday, 7-2 and 8-3. Ben Everhart and Ben Roach were the winning pitchers, with Everhart throwing a complete game five-hitter in the opener.
Ball took the loss in the first game and Rankin in the second game. Both pitchers allowed only three earned runs as the Warriors were charged with five errors in the two games.
Weinberger's double knocked in a run in the first inning of the first game, but Weinberger was then cut down at the plate trying to score on Rankin's single.
Weinberger also doubled home Rice Lake's second run after Ryan Neil's single in the sixth inning.
In the second game, Weinberger and Ashlin had singles as the Warriors scored one run in the second inning. In the two-run fifth, Kempf singled to go with a walk, a wild pitch and a Memorial error.

Lake 7 Theatre

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