The Rats steal the cheese
It's only fitting that the River Rats would spoil Ellsworth's Cheese Curd fest.
The Rats hit eight home runs in three games and outscored their opponents 37-5 on their way to a first-place finish at the Ellsworth Hubbers' annual baseball tournament, which is held in conjunction with the community's Cheese Curd Fest each year.
Jason Bast accounted for four of the Rats' home runs, including two in one inning against River Falls in the championship game. Bast's second bomb in the top of the seventh was a grand slam and helped put the finishing touches on the Rats' 12-1 victory over the Fighting Fish.
Recent Hudson High School graduate Tyler Dierke made his debut with the Rats in the title game and pitched a complete game, three-hitter but was clinging to a 2-1 lead after six. Hudson then exploded for 10 runs in the top of the seventh, highlighted by a homer by Joel Shaffer and two long balls by Bast. Paul Ruppert followed Bast's second homer of the inning with a home run of his own to make the final 12-1.
He win was the first for the River Rats against the Fighting Fish in three tries this season.
The Rats reached the championship game by defeating Elmwood, 12-2, Friday night and the host Hubbers, 13-2, on Saturday.
Friday night's affair was a nine-inning league make-up game against the Expos, and the Rats responded with home runs from Shaffer and Brent Blegen and received six innings of three-hit ball from Brian Sparstad to earn the win on the mound.
Sparstad struck out six while limiting the Expos to two runs while Blegen led the Rats at the plate with a 4-for-5 effort.
Bast belted a pair of home runs in Saturday's 13-2 semifinal win over Ellsworth, and Jason Hollar added a double and a triple while Davis Lenzen turned in his second strong start in a row on the mound, throwing five innings to earn the victory.
Hudson, now 9-8 overall, 5-3 in St. Croix Valley League play, will host the St. Paul Mudhens in a non-league game Tuesday, June 30 at 6:15 p.m. before traveling to New Richmond for a big North Division battle Wednesday night, July 1. The Millers are currently 7-3 and in second place in the North Division of the SCVBL.