BEARS NEWS

The Eau Claire Bears look to open up the 2019 season with a bang. The bears won 17 of their 22 league games last season under new manager Chevy Tollefson and look to continue that success this year. This will be the Bears 2nd season at Cinder City Park and are excited to get things rolling. There will be a few new faces in the dugout this season some that might be familiar. The Bears welcome 2018 All CRBL Award winners Todd Lasher and Jimmy Anderson to the squad this summer. As well as newcomers Jonathan Novas and Alex Mahaz. The Bears are also excited to announce we will be a host site to the 2019 WBA Regional Tournament which will be held August 9-11. GO BEARS

Bears News

The Eau Claire Bears are excited to announce that we have officially moved our home field to Cinder City Park in Altoona! This was something that was high on Rookie Manager Chevy Tollefson's list. This move will offer our fans a much more fan friendly atmosphere with concessions, great parking, better bathroom facilities, and a park for the youngest of our fans to play on. We hope to see you come out and join us at our new home this summer! See you guys soon.

Bears have run roughshod through CRBL this summer

Midway through the 2014 season, the Eau Claire Bears found their mojo. And they haven’t lost it since.

After a sluggish 5-6 start to Chippewa River Baseball League play, the Bears ripped off an 11-game win streak to close out league play and springboard into the playoffs, in which they upended No. 1 seed Whitehall and No. 3 Osseo to claim the league title and a Wisconsin Baseball Association playoff berth.

City graduates key Bears' success

Photo credit: Leader Telegram

Photo credit: Leader Telegram

To sum up the history of the Eau Claire Bears requires the understanding of a few simple statistics.

Eight South Division titles, seven league titles and three Wisconsin Baseball Association state championships certainly stand out, but the most important number is 14. All of that success has come in just 14 years in the Chippewa River Baseball League.

In a city surrounded by baseball, the Bears have been a constant since they replaced the Eau Claire Red Sox in 1998.

Using players primarily from city schools, Eau Claire won its three state titles in 2005, 2008 and 2009.

Since then there's been some rebuilding, but the Bears are off to a 15-2 run, including a clean sweep of the North Division, in what could be the  franchise's most successful season ever.

"The last couple of years we've been bringing in a young group of guys and now I think a big part of our success is those younger guys are a year, two or three years in now to playing with the team," manager Reed Pecha said. "They know the team, they know the league and there's a huge learning curve when you go from playing against kids to playing against grown men with wooden bats. Now the guys are starting to put it together."

Recent city graduates such as Sam Janni, Greg Button and Jeremy Nicolai have teamed with veterans Pecha, Jon Huth, Matt Lunde and Brian Menard to form one of the deepest rosters in the league.

For some of the young players, there's been a bit of a learning curve, but so far it hasn't been an issue.

"I don't think people realize how many good players are in this league," Janni said. "I certainly didn't until I played against these guys."

Having younger players join the team in recent years has helped Pecha, who used to be an area high school coach, grow in his role as Bears manager.

"I coached a lot of these guys," Pecha said. "We're lucky, fortunate here in Eau Claire to have two really good public high schools and Regis as well. There's a lot of guys who went to North and Memorial who are playing with other teams in the league as well. So it's a really good talent pool that we have around this area."

Regardless of when players graduated or what high school they came from, the Bears are all about camaraderie.

"Just going through North and Memorial, whether you like someone or not, you gain respect for how well they can play baseball," said Nicolai, an All-Star in his second year. "When you get a little bit older and you get into these leagues, you learn that we're on the same team now and can really make something great happen."

The season has been beyond great for the Bears as several team records have already fallen.

And while it's the younger players who have been key to this team's success, many of the veterans are already among the best to play in the league.

Matt Lunde is the league's career leader in ERA. He entered the All-Star break at 2.17.

Huth is one of four players in league history to record two no-hitters. His next one will make him the lone player with three.

Earlier in the season, Pecha became just the 13th player to have a six-hit performance in a league game.

Having a veteran presence around has been crucial to developing many of the young players who have at most a season of college ball under their belts.

"The veteran players, they keep us younger guys in line and they keep us on track," Nicolai said. "They keep us focused and because of them we're having the success that we are."

Add in a few players from North's state title team in 2011 and you've got a recipe for success.

"A lot of these kids know how to win," Pecha said. "Sometimes it takes time, you have to build up that confidence. A lot of it has to do with playing in big games as high schoolers and understanding what it takes to win."

With all the winning Eau Claire is doing in 2012, it's no surprise the team is hoping to regain its foothold atop the WBA.

"The ultimate goal is to win a state title," Pecha said. "No matter what happens during the season, the goal is to get back to state and hopefully make a run."

From the Leader Telegram by Ben Peterson, August 2, 2014

Eau Claire Bears 9, Osseo Merchants 3 CRBL: Bears continue hot streak, roll to league title

OSSEO - Like a runaway train, there was nothing the Osseo Merchants could do to slow down the Eau Claire Bears.

The Bears had won 12 straight games heading into Saturday's Chippewa River Baseball League Championship Game.  They made it lucky No. 13 with a 9-3 win over the Merchants at Jon Soiney Field to give Eau Claire it's sixth CRBL title.

Eau Claire pitcher Hayden Bowe came in relief of starter Matt Lunde, who exited after three innings due to shoulder soreness. The Memorial graduate finished the game, allowing just one run and four hits in six innings to earn the win and game MVP honors.

“My defense played great behind me and the bats were hot the whole game,” Bowe said.

It’s the first title for Eau Claire since it won five in six years (2004-06, 08-09).

Lunde, third baseman Jim Thill, right fielder Brian Menard, designated hitter/manager Reed Pecha and coach Dave Strauch have been part of every league title for the Bears.

“To see this come full circle and to be a part of our sixth championship with essentially a whole new group of guys is really satisfying for us older guys,” Pecha said.

The Bears got a quick run in the first inning as Tom Mewhorter singled to drive in Mitch DeGrasse.

Osseo tied it in the second on a Joe Zawacki double, but defensive lapses in the third led to three Eau Claire runs to make it 4-1.

The Merchants would claw back to make it 4-3, but Eau Claire never relinquished the lead and pulled away late as DeGrasse lifted a two-run home run over the left-field wall in the ninth.

DeGrasse finished 2-for-3 with three runs, two RBIs and two stolen bases. Mewhorter was 1-for-4 with a pair of sac flies and three RBIs.

Nathan Kent also went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI.

“Even when it got to be 4-3, it didn’t seem like we panicked or started to force anything,” Pecha said. “We just played ball like we have all year.”

Staying calm has been the theme for Eau Claire as it finished the first half of the season with a 5-6 record. It hasn’t lost a league game since.

“You see it happen all the time in sports where a team in the second half of the year gets into a groove and they’re able to keep that running,” Pecha said. “I knew that this group was talented enough to have more success than we were having. I just knew that if we could put it together that we were as good as any team in the CRBL.”

Second baseman Sam Waters went 3-for-5, third baseman/catcher Josh Anderson went 2-for-4 and shortstop Jesse Brockman was 1-for-2 with a triple, run and an RBI to lead the  Merchants at the plate.

Starting pitcher Logan Boettcher was solid through 6q innings despite surrendering six walks. The southpaw allowed just two earned runs and struck out seven.

It was the first championship game appearance for Osseo, which finished with the best record in franchise history at 17-5.

“If the wild card format stays where two South Division teams can contend for the title, I don’t think that this is going to be the last time we see those guys,” Pecha said of the Merchants. “They’re a classy group and an excellent ball team, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them take this team far into the WBA playoffs.”

The Bears had an unprecedented streak of playing in the championship game every season from 2004-2010.

With a young and talented core returning, could a similar streak be on the horizon?

“We’ll just try to enjoy this one, but we can’t help but think that if we keep a group together that we’re going to be competitive for a while to come here,” Pecha said.

From the Leader Telegram by Ben Peterson, August 2, 2014

Bears will rely on experience

Eau Claire Bears season preview

The 2010 season could be a pivotal one for the Eau Claire Bears.

The Bears are fresh off their fifth Chippewa River Baseball League title in six years and their second consecutive Wisconsin Baseball Association title.

With the bulk of last year's roster returning, manager Reed Pecha hopes that 2010 is just more of the same.

"We look to continue our tradition of winning," Pecha said. "Right now we're off to a slow start but it's a long season and we hope to be there in the end."

The Bears are 3-2 overall in 2010 but Pecha has faith in a strong pitching staff and a veteran lineup.

Bears win fifth CRBL championship in six years

By John Casper Jr. Leader-Telegram staff

The Eau Claire Bears powered their way to a sixth consecutive Chippewa River Baseball League South Division title with pitching and defense.

Sunday in the CRBL championship game at Casper Park, the offense decided to join the party.

The Bears Nos. 3, 4, and 5 hitters - Colin Boone, Brian Menard and Jim Thill - went a combined 7-for-15 with three home runs and six RBIs as the Bears won their fifth league title in the past six seasons with a 10-0 victory over the Hallie Eagles.

"We knew that if we could get a couple runs early and as long as we kept getting solid defense and solid pitching there was a good chance we'd come out on top at the end," Eau Claire manager/right fielder Reed Pecha said. "We've been a little bit silent all year with the bats, and finally today we made some noise."

Eau Claire grabbed an early lead on an RBI double by Menard in the third, then broke open the game in the fifth. 

Boone hit a two-run home run over the scoreboard in right field and Menard followed with a home run to the same area on the very next pitch, giving the Bears a four-run cushion.

Eau Claire added two runs in each of the next two innings, which included a towering two-run home run by Thill that disappeared into the brush way beyond the right-field fence in the seventh.

The blast chased Hallie starter Adam Ferrell, who led the CRBL with nine victories and was pitching for the third time in eight days. 

Hallie needed to beat Chippewa Falls in a one-game playoff for the North Division title Wednesday night for a spot in the championship.

"He's never tired," said Hallie manager Luke Walker, who was given the Jan Krueger Manager of the Year Award. "He can throw all day, all week.

"They're just good hitters all around. You have to make the plays and not make the errors."

Hallie committed six errors, but the Bears big boppers would have done their damage anyway.

"I don't know if (Ferrell) had his best stuff," said Menard, who went 3-for-5 and was named the game's most valuable player. "He's had our number before in the past. We all swung it really well."

Scott Wolfe, the MVP of last year's championship game, added three hits, while the Bears Nos. 8 and 9 hitters - Nate Larson and Chris Flater - each drove in a run.

"You see guys hitting the ball hard and getting some confidence going, that spreads," Pecha said. "It was nice to see that. Even the guys that made outs were hitting the ball hard. Everyone was seeing the ball really well and we were putting some good strokes on the ball."

Matt Lunde threw six solid innings, giving up six hits and working his way out of a couple of early jams. 

Jon Huth, the CRBL ERA leader, threw the final three innings to pick up the save, striking out six.

Both teams begin play in the Wisconsin Baseball Association tournament next weekend. The Eagles, who were playing in their first CRBL championship game since 2000, play in a regional at Carson Park while the Bears, who won the WBA tournament last year, begin regional play in Abbotsford.

Pecha hopes Sunday's offensive outburst is a sign of things to come.

"That's a big momentum boost for us," he said. "I think we needed that to get our confidence a little bit and hoepfully, we can carry that into next weekend."

EAU CLAIRE BEARS 10, HALLIE EAGLES 0

EAU CLAIRE (10)

AB-R-H-RBI: Reed Pecha, rf, 4-1-0-1; Colin Boone, cf, 5-3-2-2; Brian Menard, lf, 5-1-3-2; Jim Thill, 2b, 5-1-2-2; Luke Stelter, cf, 4-0-0-0; Matt Prosek, ph, 1-1-1-0; Scott Wolfe, ss, 4-1-3-0; Tim Thill, 1b, 4-1-0-0; Kelly Werner, 1b, 1-0-0-0; Nate Larson, 3b, 4-1-1-0; Jared Wirth, ph, 1-0-0-1; Chris Flater, dh, 4-0-0-1; Matt Lunde, p, 0-0-0-0; Jon Huth, p, 0-0-0-0. Totals 42-10-12-9.

HALLIE (0)

Trevor Madson, cf, 4-0-0-0; Luke Merritt, lf, 3-0-0-0; Eric Strobel, lf, 1-0-0-0; Adam DeWolf, rf/p, 4-0-1-0; Brett Olson, c, 4-0-0-0; Zach Merritt, 3b, 3-0-2-0; August, 3b, 1-0-0-0; Brandon Elliot, ss, 3-0-2-0; Link Walker, ph, 1-0-0-0; Adam Ferrell, p/rf, 4-0-0-0; Ben DeWolf, 2b, 3-0-0-0; Ray Krause, dh, 3-0-1-0; Benji Myers, 1b, 0-0-0-0. Totals 33-0-6-0.

Eau Claire 001 032 211 - 10 12 2

Hallie 000 000 000 - 0 6 6

E - Wolfe 2; B. DeWolf 2, Myers, L. Merritt, Elliott, August. DP - Eau Claire, Hallie. LOB - Eau Claire 8, Hallie 8. 2B - Menard. 3B - J. Thill. HR - Boone, Menard, J. Thill. SB - Madson. SAC - Flater.

Eau Claire IP H R ER BB SO

Lunde, W 6 6 0 0 2 2

Huth, S 3 0 0 0 0 6

Hallie

Ferrell 63 8 8 5 1 7

A. DeWolf 2q 4 2 2 1 2

WP - Huth.