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Baseball: Raiders still in the hunt

Raider pitcher Jake Hayes fires a strike to the plate early in the game in Hudson's 8-6, extra-inning win over Prescott Saturday in Prescott. The Raiders won four of the five games they played last week, including both games at Saturday's Prescott Tournament. Bob Burrows photo

After opening last week with a 5-3 loss to Eau Claire Memorial, the Raider baseball team reeled off four straight victories, including two Big Rivers Conference wins, to keep them in contention for a conference title.

Monday Hudson split a doubleheader at Eau Claire North to move to 8-2 in BRC play, 15-5 overall. Eau Claire Memorial sits in first place at 9-1 (16-4 overall).

The Raiders remaining conference games are Thursday, May 21 at Chippewa Falls (5-5, 12-6) and Tuesday, May 26, at Eau Claire Memorial. Hudson's three remaining nonconference games are this Friday, May 22 at home against Como Park, Thursday, May 28 at New Richmond, and Saturday, May 30, at home against Onalaska.

Last week's victories included a 19-8 rout of Rice Lake Tuesday and a 12-2 decision over Menomonie on Thursday. At Saturday's Prescott Wood Bat Invitational, Hudson defeated Ellsworth, 8-1, and came back from a 4-0 deficit to beat the host Cardinals, 8-6, in eight innings.

In the first game of a doubleheader Monday at Carson Park in Eau Claire, the Huskies got the winning run in the bottom of the seventh to steal a 3-2 victory before Hudson returned the favor courtesy of a Kory Koller walk-off home run in the nightcap that gave the Raiders a 7-6 win.

Koller also hit a three-run blast in the third inning to help the Raiders take a 4-0 lead. Koller finished with three hits, five RBI and two runs scored in the win. Chase Graskewicz added a hit, RBI and two runs scored while Cory Larson earned the win with three innings of shutout ball in relief of starter Jeff Schmitz.

Tyler Dierke took the loss in the opener, despite allowing just four hits and striking out seven in 6 2/3 innings. Graskewicz had three hits in the opener.

Saturday in Prescott, the Raiders scored six runs in the top of the seventh to seal an 8-1 victory over Ellsworth, then pulled out an 8-6 win over Prescott when Koller snapped a 6-6 tie with a base hit to drive in Graskewicz in the top of the eighth.

Andy Edholm had a hit and two RBI and Koller drove in a run in the win over Ellsworth while Graskewicz tripled, walked twice and scored twice. Austin Lenzen picked up the complete game win on the mound, allowing just two hits while striking out seven and walking four.

"Austin did a great job for us today on the mound," Raider head coach Ryan Huppert said. "He battled and kept us in the game."

Hudson fell behind 4-0 early in the second game against Prescott, but scored one run in the third, two in the fourth and one in the fifth to tie the score. The Cardinals took a 5-4 lead in their half of the fifth but Adam Dardine gave Hudson its first lead of the game with a two-out, two-run single in the top of the seventh.

The Cardinals got an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings. Graskewicz led off the eighth with a double and scored on a base hit by Koller, before Koller scored to make the score 8-6. Edholm, the Raiders' third pitcher of the game, then retired the Cardinals in order in the bottom of the eight to earn the win.

Graskewicz doubled twice, scored twice and drove in a run in the game while Koller was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Edholm also had two hits, including a double, and scored twice.

Huppert credited Tyler Freer, who allowed just one earned run while striking out five in 4 2/3 innings of relief of starter Jake Hayes, with giving the Raiders a chance to win.

"Freer, like Lenzen in the first game today, pitched some big innings for us," the coach said. "Tyler deserves a lot of credit for our success in the second game."

At Menomonie last Thursday, Hudson broke open a scoreless game with eight runs in the fourth on its way to a 12-2, six inning win. Graskewicz had a grand slam home run and a double in the victory while Edholm had three hits and two RBI, Hayes Taylar Zarfos and Dardine each had two hits and a run batted in and Dierke had a hit and two RBI.

Jeff Schmitz worked the first four innings to earn the win before Cory Larson pitched two scoreless innings in relief.

Koller had a grand slam and doubled in the Raiders' 19-8 win over Rice Lake last Tuesday. Zarfos contributed three hits and three RBI and Dardine had a double, triple and three RBI while Graskewicz singled in a pair of runs.

Lenzen, Hayes and Freer all saw action on the mound, with Lenzen working the first three innings to earn the win.

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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