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Cheesemakers struggle to pick up a big hit in shutout loss
Monroe shortstop Cory Kundert rifles a throw to first base after stepping on second during a double-play groundout by Stoughtons Sean Gerber in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Cheesemakers lost the game 7-0.
STOUGHTON - Timely hitting and limiting errors. Most baseball coaches preach that the two concepts will win most games.

Monroe's coaching staff is no different. However, preaching and performing are two separate matters, a fact that held true in the Cheesemakers' 7-0 loss to Stoughton on Friday evening.

"Not hitting with runners in scoring position has been our problem all year," head coach Steve Christensen said. "As much as anything, we've got some guys that are a little hesitant to get out there with runners in scoring position. We were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position."

In the second inning, Monroe had runners at second and third with no outs after a walk by cleanup hitter Taylor Weckerly and a long double to left center by pitcher Mike Rear. Six-hitter Cory Kundert struck out looking, Matt Whipple popped out to second and Kris Rieder went down with a backwards "K" to end the threat.

Stoughton, on the other hand, took advantage of nearly the same circumstance in the bottom half of the second. The Vikings scored two runs on a double by Ryan Nyhagen, singles by Dylan Gavazzoni and Tyler Kowalkowski, and a few wild pitches before the Cheesemakers could record an out.

With two outs and Kowalkowski on second, Monroe called for an intentional walk of leadoff hitter Jake Wenzel after a 3-0 count. Rear then allowed an RBI single to Mike Wersland to make the score 3-0. Sean Gerber knocked in a run, then Monroe committed an error to allow a fifth, ending the inning after 10 batters and five runs.

"Mike pitched well enough to win a lot of games. It just seemed like everything they hit in the second inning found a hole. That happens every once in a while," Christensen said. "Now all we have to do is learn how to do the same thing and put the ball in play."

In the top of the third, Alex Dammen led off with a single up the middle for Monroe. After four pickoff attempts, Stoughton pitcher Nick Hite threw his fifth attempt wild along the fence line in right field, which left Dammen standing on third base with the top of Monroe's order due up with no outs. Mitch Marty lined out to short, Justin Rackow struck out looking, and Mike Demianiuk grounded out to short.

"We're going to mess with the lineup a little bit - some extreme things. And we're probably going to start that Tuesday in order to get ready for tournament play," Christensen said.

Rear settled down on the mound, and allowed just two baserunners over the next three innings.

Monroe couldn't get anything going, including leaving courtesy runner Scott Kline on second in the fourth after Rear had reached on a one-out error to third.

Dammen was left on first in the fifth, and Rear's single was left for dead despite the courtesy runner getting left on second in the sixth. Stoughton scored three unearned runs in the home half of the inning.

Dammen led off the seventh with a double to right center and Marty hit a seeing-eye single, but Monroe could not advance either runner.

Rear and Dammen each had two of Monroe's five hits. The Cheesemakers struck out nine times in the game, including six times looking.

"For some reason we have a tendency to swing hard and swing and miss a lot," Christensen said. "But we have to try and regroup on Tuesday a little bit to get ready for Big Foot on Friday."

Monroe travels to Reedsburg on Tuesday in one last tune-up before hosting Walworth Big Foot in the first round of the WIAA Division 2 playoffs. Christensen figures to pitch Rieder against Reedsburg, and how well or poorly the team is faring will determine who the Cheesemakers use in relief and how far they empty the bench.

Against Big Foot, Demianiuk, the team's ace, will take the mound. Rear then would get the nod against No. 1-seeded Edgerton on Tuesday, June 2, should Monroe win. Demianiuk then would take to the hill in the regional final on Wednesday, June 3, should the Cheese make it that far.