The Viroqua American Legion Post 135 baseball team has certainly come into its own in terms of hitting.
“We’ve been really hitting the ball pretty good,” assistant coach Nate Noggle said.
Viroqua’s home run hot streak continued last week with a pair of home runs by Tyler Trautsch in a doubleheader sweep of Arcadia at the Park Bowl June 19. Mason Joholski also homered in the second Arcadia game had another one home run in a 7-5 loss at Onalaska, last Thursday.
Strong hitting was also on display at the tournament in Mankato, Minn., last weekend, where Viroqua (11-6 overall) took second overall, after falling, 9-2, to Apple Valley in Sunday’s championship game.
Viroqua 13, Arcadia 3
Allowing just three hits for Arcadia in game one, June 19, Viroqua “just pounded the ball” Noggle said, garnering a total of 10 hits.
Ahead 7-2 through three complete, Viroqua put the game away with a six-run fourth inning that included a solo home run by Trautsch to left-center field.
Tyler Bentz started on the mound for Post 138, with Dustin Stalsberg coming in relief in the fourth. Stalsberg struck out two and walked one, picking up the win.
Trautsch was 3-for-3 at the plate with two singles and home run. Tyler Gabrielson was 2-for-3 with two RBI, a double and two runs scored, while Brandon Mickelson was 2-for-2 with a double and two runs scored.
Viroqua 9, Arcadia 7
In game two, Post 138 persevered through a 7-1 deficit after the second inning to ultimate win, 9-7, for the sweep.
Noggle said Abe Beckstrand helped keep Viroqua in the game, pitching for the first four-and-one third innings.
Two timely three-run home runs also helped Post 138’s cause.
In the third inning, Trautsch slammed a three-run homer and in the bottom of the sixth, with Viroqua down by one, 7-6, Joholski had one, too — to left-center field again — bringing Bentz, Trautsch and himself home.
Assistant Legion coach Rob Heller said Joholski’s home run was the game-winning hit.
Gabrielson, who came in relief of Beckstrand, picked up the pitching win.
Gabrielson struck out four and walked two, but didn’t give up any hits.
Trautsch was 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI. Mitch Stalsberg was 2-for-4.
Onalaska 7, Viroqua 5
A win, however, at Onalaska, last Thursday, was just not in the cards for Viroqua.
Starting the game up 1-0, Post 138 gave up six runs in the bottom of first inning
Ultimately, it proved to be too steep of a climb for Post 138 to overcome, falling, 7-5.
Heller said it’s hard to win when you’re down.
“It’s hard to win a game when you dig yourself a hole like that,” Heller said. “You give up six in the first inning, playing from behind is always tough.”
Viroqua tried, though.
In the fifth inning, Joholski hit another home run, a “dead center line shot,” Heller said, and Post 138 added two more runs in the top of the seventh, before Onalaska ended Viroqua’s rally.
Heller said leaving so many runners on base hurt, too.
“We had four innings, where we stranded at least one runner at second base,” Heller said.
Starting pitcher Dalten Tryggestad picked up the loss. Tryggestad struck out four and walked five in five innings.
Joey Huber reached base four times — three walks and one base hit. Mickelson was 2-for-3.
Mankato National 7 (9)
Shaking off the Onalaska loss, Viroqua opened pool play of the Mankato Tournament, Friday, with an 11-7 win over host Mankato National.
Noggle said one game in the tournament had international league rules.
“You had to play one full inning of extra innings and then after that you have to start with a runner on second base,” Noggle said.
Noggle said that’s how it’s played in the World Baseball Classic.
“We took advantage of it that’s for sure,” Noggle said.
Starting the top of the ninth inning with the runner, who was the last out in the previous inning at second base, Viroqua put the game out of reach for Mankato, scoring five unanswered runs.
Beckstrand had a two-RBI single with the bases loaded. Gabrielson and Mickelson also knocked runs on their base hits.
Viroqua gave up one run to Mankato in the bottom of the ninth, before bringing in the big gun — Mitch Stalsberg, throwing three strikes for the third out.
“He blew three fast balls by [the batter] and that was the ball game,” Noggle said.
Dave Crandell pitched eight complete innings and part of the ninth, picking up the win. Crandell struck three, walked three and gave up just four hits.
Viroqua, meanwhile, had 17. Mitch Stalsberg was 4-for-5 with a douvble, Beckstrand 3-for-5 with two RBI and Gabrielson was 2-for-4.
Viroqua 11, Litchfield 3
Taking on Litchfield, after Mankato on Friday, Post 138 quickly jumped to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, which included a solo home run by Mitch Stalsberg.
Dustin Stalsberg pitched for Viroqua and allowed Litchfield to only score a run in the first, fourth and seventh innings. In between, Dustin Stalsberg struck out a total of batters.
Litchfield never had a chance.
With Dustin Stalsberg controlling things on the mound, Viroqua was holding onto a comfortable 4-2 lead, when Post 138 really got going, Noggle said, in the sixth and seventh innings. Viroqua further extended its lead with three in the sixth and four in the seventh, sealing the win.
Dustin Stalsberg picked up the complete-game win.
Huber was 2-for-3 with three RBI.
Bloomington Gold 2 (5)
Saturday’s games were rained out, and was Viroqua’s last game in its pool was the only game played on Sunday before the championship.
Noggle said the Bloomington game was first rescheduled for 9 a.m. Sunday, but that got pushed back later to 11:30 a.m. Post 138 scored six runs in the fifth inning to end the game on the 10-run rule, but before even that, Viroqua threw a pitcher the Bloomington Gold team could barely much less hit off of. It was Mitch Stalsberg. Stalsberg struck out 11 and walked three in five innings, giving up just two runs and two hits.
“Their coaches were kind of like ‘we don’t see that every day,’” Noggle said.
Zach Trautsch was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Tyler Trautsch was 2-for-2 with three RBI, and Joholski was also 2-2 and had a double and an RBI.
Apple Valley 9, Viroqua 2
Viroqua’s winning streak at Mankato finally came to an end in the championship game against Apple Valley. Post 138 scored first with one run in the top of the second, but Apple Valley took away that lead with three unearned runs in the bottom of inning.
Post 138 couldn’t quite recover after that. Viroqua scored again in the third inning to get within one, 3-2, but Apple Valley went on to score four more runs in the fourth and two in the sixth.
“We just didn’t execute, but [Apple Valley] did; they didn’t make any mistakes,” Noggle said.
Gabrielson, who had three walks, but no strikeouts, picked up the pitching loss.
Huber was 1-for-2 with an RBI.
Viroqua hosted North Crawford for one game Wednesday, but has a slew of games coming up — the 34th annual Viroqua Legion Tournament at the Park Bowl today (Thursday) through Sunday. Playing in Viroqua’s tourney is North Crawford, Sparta, Tomah, Westby, Lodi and Holmen.
Results from Post 138’s doubleheader at La Crescent, Monday will appear in next week’s Broadcaster.