The pieces are falling into place for the Viroqua American Legion Post 138 baseball team.
Viroqua, which dropped its first two games against La Crosse Post 52, June 8, bounced back in a big way, winning six out of its last eight games.
Post 138 (6-4) split a Monday, June 10, doubleheader with Holmen; swept West Salem in a twin bill last Thursday and was 3-1 in a tournament at Prairie du Chien, Saturday and Sunday.
Legion assistant coach Rob Heller said the team had a slow start transitioning from spring to summer ball, but all that’s changed.
“We’re playing a lot better now than at the beginning of the season,” Heller said. “I think it was just a slow start; maybe some of the problems we had hitting in the spring carried over, but we’re hitting the ball really well now and the pitchers are throwing strikes.”
Viroqua 4, Holmen 3
Hosting Holmen for a double header Monday, June 10, Post 138 won the first game by a 4-3 margin.
Mitch Stalsberg scored the game-winning run on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the seventh inning.
One major highlight from game one was Mason Joholski’s solo home run over by left field in the fifth inning.
Tyler Gabrielson picked up the win, coming in relief of Tyler Trautsch in the seventh inning.
David Crandell was 2-for-3 with a double.
Holmen 6, Viroqua 3
In game two, Joholski belted his second home run Monday night — a two-run shot over the left field fence in the fifth inning — but it wasn’t enough to get passed Holmen a second time.
Holmen already had a 4-0 lead when Viroqua plated its first two runs in the fifth inning, and held the advantage throughout the rest of the game.
Both teams had three errors in the game, but Holmen had more hits — eight to Post 138’s five.
Dalten Tryggestad pitched the first four innings of the game and picked up the loss for Viroqua with three strikeouts and three walks.
Joholski batted 2-for-3 with a home run.
Viroqua 1, West Salem 0
Traveling to West Salem last Thursday, Viroqua edged West Salem’s Legion team, 1-0, in game one.
Zach Trautsch’s fortuitous RBI proved to be was the game-winning run in third inning.
West Salem had the same number of hits as Viroqua — three — but couldn’t get one run across home plate.
Heller said Gabrielson pitched “a gem.” Gabrielson picked up the pitching win, striking out six and having one hit batter in the three-hitter.
Heller said Zach Trautsch, Abe Beckstrand and Brandon Mickelson each had a base hit.
Viroqua 7, West Salem 0
Viroqua’s second victory of last Thursday’s doubleheader sweep was fueled by two things: West Salem’s errors and Dustin Stalsberg’s pitching.
Ahead 3-0, Post 138 scored three runs in the fifth inning that included a lead-off double by Zach Trautsch and another double from Crandell.
Heller said Viroqua’s scoring spree was fueled by West Salem’s errors in the field. All total, West Salem had six in game. Three came in the fifth inning.
The other side of the equation was Dustin Stalsberg, who struck out six, walked two and gave up just two hits in the win.
“Both Tyler and Dustin pitched extremely well, a lot of strikes, a few walks and when you do back-to-back shut outs to West Salem you’re doing good things,” Heller said.
Leading hitters in the second game included Mitch Stalsberg, who was 2-for-4 with a double. Zach Trautsch was 3-for-4 with a double and three stolen bases.
Viroqua 5, Baraboo 1
Playing its first game at the Prairie du Chien Legion Tournament, Saturday, Viroqua got off to a great start with a 5-1 win over Baraboo.
Tied 1-1 going into the fifth inning, Post 138 broke the tie with a four-run fifth inning.
The inning started out innocently enough. Joey Huber led off with a single. Mitch Stalsberg walked and Beckstrand laid in a sacrifice bunt. What followed next — four consecutive singles — broke the game wide open.
Mitch Stalsberg threw 14 strikeouts and four walks for the pitching win.
Mitch Stalsberg was also the team‘s leading hitter with an RBI-triple in the third inning.
Onalaska 5, Viroqua 4
Facing Onalaska for the first time, Saturday, Viroqua was edged, 5-4.
Post 138 was right there, but a few too many errors in the fifth inning allowed Onalaska to come back, Heller said.
Down just two runs, 5-3, in the top of the seventh inning, Viroqua had the bases loaded and was poised to score. Post 138 did score, making it, 5-4, but no more runs came after that.
Unfortunately, Viroqua left the inning with the bases loaded on a strikeout.
Mickelson picked up the pitching loss. Mickelson struck out two and walked two.
Leading hitters were Joholski 2-for-4 with two doubles. Huber was also 2-for-4.
Viroqua 12, La Crosse Juniors 4
On Sunday, Viroqua forgot all about Saturday’s loss, tallying a dominant 12-4 win over the La Crosse Juniors. Post 138 plated back-to-back three-run innings in the third and fourth inning.
Three of those runs came from Joholski, who knocked out a three-run home run to left field in the third inning.
Joholski had a monster day at the plate. Not only did Joholski go 4-for-4 with six RBI, but he also hit for the cycle: a single, double, triple and home run in one game.
“That’s pretty special,” Heller said. “Not many people get each of the four hits in a game.”
Other leading hitters for Viroqua included Tyler Trautsch 3-for-3 with two doubles and Crandell, who was 2-for-4.
Viroqua 12, Onalaska 3
Seeing Onalaska for the second time last weekend, this time in Sunday’s championship game, Post 138 avenged Saturday’s loss with a 12-3 victory.
“We could have 10-runned them, but we’ll take 12-3,” Heller said.
Not to mention the two opportune home runs from Joholski and Tyler Trautsch.
Down 1-0 in the first inning and tied 1-1 after the third inning, Joholski hit a grand slam home run in a five-run fourth inning, while Trautsch had a two-run homer in a five-run fifth inning.
“Mason’s was a towering shot, it just a moon ball over the left field fence again and Tyler Trautsch smashed one over the right-center fence,” Heller said. “They were both no-doubters, well-hit balls.”
Joholski ended up 2-for-4 with his grand slam homer and a double, and Tyler Trautsch was 3-for-4 with his home run and an RBI single in the fourth inning.
Huber was 3-for-3 with a walk and scored four of Viroqua’s 12 runs.
Heller said for Post 138 to come back from a tight loss on Saturday with a commanding victory over Onalaska was a statement.
“I definitely think we’re going in the right direction,” Heller said. “The bats are coming alive at the right time. It’s always good when you’re hitting the ball, scoring 12 runs.
“[Sunday] we had two 10-plus run games and that’s always a good place to be when you’re hitting the ball around like that,” Heller continued.
Viroqua hosted Arcadia for a doubleheader at the Park Bowl, Wednesday; with one seven-inning game at Onalaska today (Thursday).
Post 138 then travels to Mankato, Minn., for a three-day tournament, Friday to Sunday.