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Raider nine split first two games

Apparently the word is already out about the Raider baseball team's potent lineup at the plate this season.

Hudson batters were walked 26 times in two games at the Menomonie Quad Saturday, including 16 times in the team's 7-5 win over Antigo in the second game. Two unearned runs proved to be the difference in a 4-2 loss to Merrill in the first game.

Monday the Raiders came out on the short end of a 5-2 score at Stillwater.

After being stuck inside practicing for most of the spring, Raider head coach Ryan Huppert said it was just nice to get outside Saturday.

"It was nice to get out and play, and kind of see where we stand versus some decent competition," he said. "I think we executed well on certain aspects of the game, but there are some other areas where we definitely need to improve upon. We'll keep working on it in practice and keep improving."

Last year's Big Rivers Conference Player of the Year, Chase Graskewicz, hit a two-run homer and walked twice in the first game against Merrill. Pitchers Cody Larson and Jeff Schmitz allowed just one earned run apiece, but a pair of Raider errors led to two unearned runs as Merrill stole a 4-2 win.

Larson worked the first 4 1/3 innings and was tagged with the loss, allowing six hits while striking out four and walking one. Schmitz struck out four and walked two in 2 2/3 innings of work while allowing three hits.

Tyler Dierke reached base three times in the loss, doubling and scoring a run, walking once and getting hit by a pitch.

In the second game against Antigo, Kory Koller had two runs batted in, walked once and stole a base and Andy Edholm and Zach Miller each drove in a run in a 7-5 Raider win.

Luke Hanson walked three times and scored a run while Graskewicz walked twice and scored once. Jake Hayes also walked twice, stole a base and scored two runs and Tyler Freer had a walk and run scored.

On the mound, Dierke picked up the win in relief by striking out five of the eight batters he faced. He allowed two hits and no walks in two innings of work.

Hayes started and worked two innings, allowing four runs, three earned, on four hits while striking out two and walking two. Edholm went three innings on the mound and allowed one run on one hit while striking out seven and walking two while Mat Drew also saw action on the mound.

Huppert said he was pleased with the Raider pitching in both games.

"I liked how they all battled, and the fact that we were able to get a look at six different guys in two games," he said.

Huppert also liked the way the Raiders bunted and defended the bunt, but he said the team left too many runners on base and needed to "flat out hit better."

Monday, the Raiders struggled at the plate in their 5-2 loss at Stillwater.

"We have some work to do on that part of the game and we'll keep addressing that at practice," Huppert said. "I am confident we are a better hitting team than what we have show in the first three games. We'll keep working at it."

Edholm was 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored in the loss while Miller went 1-for-2 at the plate.

Dierke took the loss on the mound, working five innings and allowing four runs, two earned, while striking out two and walking one. Schmitz struck out one and walked one while allowing one run in one inning of work.

The Raiders will host Red Wing in a nonconference game Friday, April 17 at 4:30 p.m. at Grandview Park in their home opener.

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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