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Raider baseball off to good start in BRC

Hudson first baseman Taylar Zarfos charges a bunt off the bat of River Falls' Curtis Christensen in the second game of a doubleheader Monday at Grandview Park. Zarfos fielded the bunt and tagged Christensen for the out. Photo by Bob Burrows

The Raider baseball team kicked off the Big Rivers Conference portion of its schedule on a high note by defeating Menomonie 4-2 Thursday and sweeping a doubleheader against River Falls, 11-4 and 6-1, Monday.

The Raiders improved to 4-2 overall, 3-0 in the BRC, heading into Thursday's (April 30) conference clash at Rice Lake. Friday, May 1 they visit Prescott for a nonconference game and host Baldwin-Woodville in another nonconference tilt Saturday, May 2 at 5 p.m.

Head coach Ryan Huppert said the Raiders put together their best game of the young season in Thursday's BRC opener against Menomonie.

"All around, it was the most complete game we played this season," Huppert said. We pitched very well, played error-free defense and made improvements at the plate. When we can do that in all phases of the game, we'll be a tough challenge for any team."

Huppert said the team has been working hard to sharpen its defense, and it showed Thursday.

"The defense deserves a lot of credit today," he said. "Any team that plays error-free baseball is going to be difficult to beat."

Pitcher Tyler Dierke benefitted from the Raiders' strong defense and earned the complete game win, allowing just three hits and two earned runs while striking out ten and walking one. Both Menomonie runs came on a two-run home run in the fifth.

"Dierke was very good for us on the mound," Huppert said. "He kept the Menomonie hitters off balance all game. Other than one pitch in the fifth inning, he was pretty dominant."

Kory Koller was 2-for-4 at the plate for Hudson, who trailed 2-1 before scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth to earn the win.

Dierke helped his own cause with a hit, RBI and run scored while Jake Hayes also had a hit, scored a run and drove in a run. Mat Drew and Derek Krumrei each had a hit and a run scored.

"We are coming around offensively, Huppert said. "I thought we had some pretty good at bats for the most part and hit some balls well. Unfortunately for us, we had quite a few hard hit balls find gloves. But that is part of the game, and something that we'll deal with each game. We just need to continue to improve on offense and generate more runs."

Check the Star-Observer Web site, and next week's print edition, for more on Monday's doubleheader sweep of River Falls.

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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