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Raiders baseball team drops pair of BRC games

The Raider baseball team dropped a pair of heartbreakers in Big Rivers Conference play last week, 9-7 Tuesday, May 1 at Chippewa Falls and 4-3 in nine innings Friday, May 4 at Eau Claire Memorial.

Hudson jumped out to a 4-0 first-inning lead at Chippewa Falls and led 5-2 in the second before the Cardinals struck for five runs in the fourth inning and two unearned runs in the fifth to take a 9-5 lead.

The Raiders cut the gap to 9-7 with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth but that's as close as they could get.

Friday at Carson Park in Eau Claire, the Old Abes came back on three different occasions to win the game with a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth.

The pair of losses dropped the Raiders 1.5 games back of both Eau Claire North and Chippewa Falls for first place in the Big Rivers Conference standings. Hudson, now 4-4 in BRC play, 7-6 overall, hosted River Falls (3-4, 6-6)) this past Tuesday, May 8 and will play a nonconference game at Red Wing Saturday, May 12 at 7 p.m. before returning to BRC action Tuesday, May 15, at Rice Lake (1-5, 4-9).

Last Tuesday at Chippewa Falls, the Raiders jumped out to a 4-0 first inning lead on doubles by Mike Hommes and Kellen Pearson, an RBI single by Drew Pheneger and a two-run home run by Todd Mork.

Chippewa Falls got a two-run homer in the bottom of the first, but Hudson extended its lead to 5-2 in the second when Austin Evenson drew a bases-loaded walk to force in Pheneger, who had singled earlier in the inning.

The Cardinals went on to score five runs in the fifth to take a 7-5 lead, and extended their lead to 9-5 with two unearned runs in the fifth. The Raiders pushed a pair of runs across in the bottom of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Brett Steinwagner that plated Hommes, and a base hit by Evenson to score Pheneger and make the final 9-7.

Hommes had two doubles and Pheneger was 2-for-2 with two walks, three runs scored, one RBI and a stolen base. Stef Smith started on the mound and took the loss, allowing seven earned runs on 11 hits with three strikeouts and one walk in four innings of work. Hommes pitched the final two innings, allowing two runs, none earned, on three hits with one strikeout.

Friday's game at Carson Park was scoreless until the top of the fourth when Hommes doubled and scored on a single by Steinwagner to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead.

Mork hit his team-leading fourth home run of the season, a solo shot in the fifth, to make it a 2-0 game but the Old Abes scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to tie the score.

Memorial had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the sixth, but Pearson, in relief of starting pitcher Steinwagner, got a strike out and ground out to get out of the inning.

Hudson took a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth on an RBI single by Pheneger, but Memorial put runners on second and third with no outs in the bottom of the inning. A base hit to right field allowed the runner on third to score the tying run, but Pheneger made a pinpoint throw to gun down the potential winning run at the plate and keep the score tied.

After the Raiders went down in order in their half of the ninth, Memorial got a lead-off single, a sacrifice bunt, and a walk-off base hit to win the game.

Steinwagner shut down the Old Abes over the first two innings, allowing just one hit while striking out four and walking two. Pearson went the rest of the way and took the loss, allowing four runs, three earned, on 10 hits while striking out two and waking three.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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