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Monroe splits twin bill
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MONROE - The Monroe Senior Legion baseball team was on the verge of sweeping a doubleheader against Whitewater on Sunday until everything unraveled.

Monroe won the first game 5-3 and blew a 5-3 lead in the second game as Whitewater exploded for a 12-run sixth inning to beat the Cheesemakers 15-5.

With Monroe (12-9, 8-6 in league play) playing its second doubleheader in as many days, pitching depth was key. Cory Kundert didn't play over the weekend and wasn't available to pitch, while Kris Rieder has a bulging disc in his back and can't pitch.

"We are just a little short on our pitching right now," Monroe coach Bruce Rear said. "We still leave a lot of runners on base. It's just a struggle. We seem to struggle early in the game and have to rally late. I'm glad to get a split."

Whitewater struck right away in the first game as Justin Solano came through with an RBI single off Mike Demianiuk in the first. Whitewater's Dean Backman crushed a solo homer to right center in the fourth to extend the lead to 2-0.

Solano pitched three shutout innings of no-hit ball before Monroe broke through with a four-run fourth. Demianiuk lined a single to right to break up the no-hitter in the fourth. Solano walked Taylor Weckerly and Matt Whipple to load the bases. Mike Rear delivered a game-tying two-run double down the right field line to tie the game at 2.

"Mike hasn't been hitting the ball very good in legion ball," Bruce Rear said. "I told him to go up there and hit the ball the other way. Sometimes they get pull happy. We have been preaching all summer to hit the ball where it's pitched and go to right field. That was a big hit."

Drew Geissbuhler then knocked in the go-ahead run with an RBI groundout. Rear barreled around third and scored from second as the throw home sailed over the catcher's head to give the Cheesemakers a 4-2 lead.

Demianiuk pitched a complete game and gave up three runs on five hits. He struck out nine, walked one and hit one. He limited Whitewater to just two hits after the first inning.

"That last inning he showed he was really in the groove when he struck out the side," Rear said. "Mike very rarely walks anybody. That's his advantage as a pitcher."

Monroe managed just three hits, but the Cheesemakers took advantage of their scoring opportunity in the fourth. Mike Rear and Whipple both reached base all three times they batted. Rear went 1-for-1 with two RBI and walked twice. Whipple was 1-for-1 with a walk and was hit by a pitch.

Game 2

Monroe rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the second game and was on the brink of a sweep.

The Cheesemakers left seven runners on base before rallying with a four-run sixth. Mike Rear was hit by a pitch leading off the sixth. Justin Rackow lined an RBI single to center. Alex Dammen, who went 2-for-2 with two RBI, smoked a game-tying RBI triple to center to tie the game at three. After a sacrifice fly, Taylor Weckerly came through with an RBI single to give Monroe a 5-3 lead.

"When I hit it, I just took right off," Dammen said. "He was playing good in center field. I was just running my hardest to get to second. I noticed he was just getting to the ball so I kept going. We just basically wanted to put the ball in play and score some runs."

Mike Rear ran into trouble on the mound in the bottom of the sixth as Whitewater batted around the order for a 12-run inning to win the game.

Rear walked Ben Chapman leading off the sixth and Jeff Comfort singled. Whitewater's Mike Messier beat out a little dribbler past the pitching mound to load the bases. With the bases loaded and no outs, Monroe brought in Dammen in relief. Lucas Van Norman delivered an RBI single. Two more runs scored on the same play when Rear's throw from right field went wild to give Whitewater a 6-5 lead.

Monroe used three pitchers in the sixth and the big blow to end the game came on Solano's three-run double off Jon Elmer. Rear, who pitched for the first time in almost two weeks, pitched five innings, and three of the six runs he gave up were earned. The three Monroe pitchers combined walked nine and hit two batters. Seven of the nine batters who walked came around to score.

"I didn't know that he (Mike Rear) was getting tired," Bruce Rear said. "We should have started Alex in the sixth inning instead of bringing him in with the bases loaded. Usually, at any level the walks will come back to hurt you."

Bruce Rear said Monroe will practice several times this week and work on fundamentals before playing Stoughton at 7:30 p.m. July 22 in the Class AA Senior Legion tournament at Stoughton.