Season one for the Rock County River Monsters has had its ups and downs.
The area’s 19U Post 205 American Legion baseball team has a 16-5 record, but head coach Rich Raisbeck was not pleased with how his team played Monday night coming off a 10-day layoff. Rock County split a doubleheader at Pohlman Field with Waterford.
“We’re better than that,” Raisbeck said of the split with Waterford. “That’s a team we should’ve have beaten twice, but we weren’t prepared like we should’ve been and did not have the focus needed.
“I’ve got a great group of kids, and I don’t want us to change our identity, but at this level, you can’t just show up and play. I think we learned a valuable lesson last night.”
Rock County, whose roster consists of players from Beloit Turner, Beloit Memorial, Janesville Craig, Janesville Parker and Evansville, has seven regular-season games remaining before hosting the AAA regional July 19-23 at Riverside Park. Madison Impact, Mukwonago, Racine and Lake Geneva Badger are also in the regional tournament.
The state tournament is July 26-30 in Chippewa Falls. Rock County plays Lake Geneva Badger on Friday, July 19 in its opening-game of the double-elimination tournament.
Offensively, the River Monsters have been efficient. The team is averaging 7.42 runs per game and has a team batting average of .351. Drew Ries, who will be a senior at Turner, leads the team with a robust .510 batting average, while Parker senior-to-be Jared Emerson is hitting .435.
“We’ve hit the ball pretty well as a team, but we’ve got to do a better job of hitting with men on base,” Raisbeck said. “We’ve left way too many on.
“When we’ve got everybody available, it’s very productive lineup. Hopefully now with everybody back, we can get back to swinging the bats the way we did early on.
Rock County played in a tournament in De Pere in late June without two of its top players. Turner graduate Cory Walker and Craig graduate Micah Overley played in the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Classic. Walker, an Associated Press all-state first-team selection is hitting .429, while Overley is hitting .387 and has combined with Walker for four of the team’s 14 wins.
The River Monsters also have had five games postponed by rain.
Casey Stone leads a River Monsters pitching staff that has a 2.63 ERA. Stone, a 2019 Parker graduate, is 2-2 with a save and a 1.88 ERA. Tyler Aasen, a 2018 Evansville grad, leads the team with 23 strikeouts and has a 1.91 ERA.
“Our pitchers have done a pretty good job,” Raisbeck said. “They’ve ran into some tough luck at times, and our defense has let them down a couple other times. We had four errors in our loss to Waterford last night.
“But we’ve got a pretty deep staff, and one that will give me a lot of options come tournament time.”
Janesville, which hasn’t had a legion team the last two years, last played at state in 2013. Beloit’s legion team lost in the state championship game to Madison Impact in 2016.
Raisbeck believes his team has the talent to make a long postseason run.
“If we show up focused and ready to play, these kids can play with anybody,” Raisbeck said.
“It’s nice to have the regional tournament at home, and if we can win our first game, the draw sets up well for us because we’ll get a bye in the second round.”