Raiders start 3-0 in Big Rivers baseball action
After taking some lumps during a brutal nonconference schedule to open the season, the Raider baseball team began defense of its Big Rivers Conference title by going 3-0 in conference play last week, including a 4-2 victory over preseason favorite Eau Claire Memorial.
The Raiders started the week by sweeping Menomonie, 5-3 and 2-0 in a doubleheader in Menomonie last Tuesday. Friday at Grandview Park they scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to snap a tie game and post their third straight victory over the Old Abes.
The Raiders have now won 10 straight BRC games dating back to the beginning of last season.
Cody Hepfler struck out seven in three scoreless innings of relief and went 2-for-2 at the plate to help lift the Raiders to the win.
Hudson got on the board in the first inning when Miles Lewis doubled to center and scored on a two-out single by Hunter Frey.
Memorial scored single runs in the second and third to take a brief 2-1 lead before the Raiders tied it on a two-out single by Carter Elliott in the bottom of the third to drive in Frey.
Hepfler took over for starter Ian Hutchinson in the top of the fourth and retired the Old Abes in order.
Jake Giordana was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Bryce DuCharme, stole third, and scored the go-ahead run on a hard hit ball by Frey that was misplayed by the Old Abe rightfielder.
Frey, who ended up at second on the play, scored on a single by Alex Barnard to make it a 4-2 game.
Hepfler struck out the side in the fifth and fanned two of the three batters he faced in the sixth before Frey pitched a scoreless seventh to earn the save.
Austin Koski also had a pair of hits as the Raiders evened their overall record at 4-4.
Last Tuesday in Menomonie, DuCharme, Lewis, Barnard and Isaiah Grancorvitz had two hits each, with Lewis, Barnard and Grancorvitz each doubling in a run and Frey and Connor Kresel driving in a run apiece as the Raiders downed the Mustangs 5-3.
Sam Glade started and earned the victory on the mound, allowing two earned runs with four strikeouts in five innings of work. Frey pitched the final two innings to pick up the save.
Frey and Elliott combined on a two-hit shutout in the nightcap, a 2-0 Raider victory, to complete the doubleheader sweep.
Hudson’s offense managed just five hits but two of them came in the fourth inning, leading to the game’s only runs. Hutchinson and Giordana both singled and moved up a base on a wild pitch before scoring on a fly ball by Lewis that was muffed by the Menomonie rightfielder.
Weather permitting the Raiders will host River Falls for a single game this Friday at 4 p.m. at Grandview Park. They visit Apple Valley for a tournament Saturday, May 3, before resuming BRC play Tuesday, May 6, at Eau Claire North.