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Eagles pinch Cheese out of dream
Monroe second baseman Matt Whipple tosses the ball to first baseman Kris Rieder to record an out in the third inning.
MONROE - The Cheesemakers have spent the better part of the baseball season turning heads.

"Nobody probably thought we would have five wins in conference," head coach Steve Christensen said. "We thought we had a chance to beat Monona Grove and Milton to get to at least six or seven wins and 10 overall. That would have been totally unexpected."

Monroe couldn't add another win Tuesday, though, falling to Monona Grove, 2-0, in the final home game of the regular season.

Mike Demianiuk kept Monroe in the game, allowing two unearned runs and eight hits, while striking out five against Monona Grove (6-12, 5-6 Badger South).

Monroe (8-11, 5-5) had three errors, despite mixing up the defensive positioning. Scott Kline shifted from shortstop to right field, former third baseman Cory Kundert is now playing short, and first baseman Taylor Weckerly is digging in at the hot corner.

"Scott gives us a little better speed in right than we've had. We moved the infield around on Friday (against Oregon). Cory made a couple of nice plays. He's not the prototypical shortstop, but he knows how to play and he doesn't get flustered," Christensen said. Kris Rieder also shifted; from platoon duty in right field to first base.

The new defense coughed up an error in the first inning, but Demianiuk stranded runners at the corners. In the second, Monroe's defense again left a runner in scoring position.

Monona Grove finally plated a run in the third. The Silver Eagles' leadoff hitter smashed a double to the right center gap and an errant throw to the cutoff allowed the runner to waltz into third. Two hitters later, the run scored on a groundout to Matt Whipple at second.

Monona Grove scored the team's second run in the fifth as a weak grounder skipped past Weckerly at third to allow the first runner with one out. Then, a deep single to right center allowed the runner to score from first.

"They didn't have many hits, but the ones they did have were driven to the outfield," Christensen said. "I told the kids we played OK, but nothing spectacular and it was not good enough to win."

Monroe had just three hits, but left seven runners on base, including three in scoring position. In the fourth, the Cheese stranded the bases loaded after three walks.

Demianiuk, Weckerly and designated hitter Justin Rackow each had singles for Monroe.

"This is the first close one that we've lost in a while, and I think people are a little surprised with how well we've been playing," Christensen said. "Hopefully we're ready to play (today). We've got Kris Rieder pitching and we can hit a little bit better than we did tonight."

Monroe plays at Milton (4-10, 2-6) tonight, and at Stoughton (10-7, 7-2) on Friday. The final game of the regular season for the Cheesemakers is set for May 26 at Reedsburg (16-3, 8-3 Badger North).

Notes: The game tonight starts at 5 p.m. in Milton. ... Tuesday's game was delayed by nearly 15 minutes because Monona Grove's team bus was pulled over by a State Trooper while entering Green County on Wisconsin 69. ... Monroe hasn't had nine wins in a season since finishing 17-4 in 2001.