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Baseball earns first round bye

Hudson catcher Chase Graskewicz pounces on a bunt attempt in front of first base and fires to second to get the out in the Raiders' 4-2, extra-inning win over New Richmond Thursday in New Richmond. Photo by Jeff Holmquist

The Raider baseball team saw its chance to share the Big Rivers Conference title evaporate in a 2-0 loss to conference champion Eau Claire Memorial last Tuesday, but bounced back to win its final two regular season games and earn a No. 1 seed in this week's WIAA regional tournament.

The Raiders were held hitless in their BRC finale against the Old Abes to finish with a conference record of 8-4. But they ended regular season play on a high note by defeating New Richmond on the road, 4-2 in nine innings Thursday, and sweeping Onalaska, 5-3 and 6-4, at home Saturday.

The Raiders, now 19-7 overall, were awarded the No. 1 seed and a bye in the first round of WIAA regional play. They will host the winner of Tuesday's game between No. 4 River Falls and No. 5 New Richmond Friday, June 5 at 4:30 p.m. at Grandview Park in the regional final. The winner of Friday's game will move on to sectional play Tuesday, June 9 in Eau Claire.

Last Thursday at New Richmond, Jake Hayes hit a two-out, two-run single in the top of the ninth to provide the margin of victory in the Raiders' 4-2 win over the Tigers.

Kory Koller reached on an error with two outs in the ninth and Andy Edholm followed with a single. Both runners moved up on a passed ball and scored on Hayes' second hit of the game.

Edholm worked seven innings on the mound and allowed five hits and two runs, just one earned, while striking out four and walking one. Austin Lenzen picked up the win with two scoreless innings of relief. Lenzen allowed just one hit while striking out two.

"Again, our pitching stepped forward and anchored our team today," Raider head coach Ryan Huppert said. "That's been our biggest strength all year. Andy and Austin kept us in the game and Jake Hayes delivered a big hit when we needed it."

Edholm contributed two hits in the win, including an RBI double, while Chase Graskewicz added a hit and RBI.

In the first game of a doubleheader Saturday against Onalaska, Tyler Dierke drove in four runs and pitched two scoreless innings of relief to earn the save in a 5-3 Raider win.

Dierke was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the second inning for his first RBI, drove in a run with a single in the fourth, and added a two-run base hit in the bottom of the fifth to provide Hudson with its two-run cushion.

Edholm added a pair of hits and walked twice while scoring three times. Jeff Schmitz allowed three earned runs in five innings of work to earn the win on the mound before Dierke blanked Onalaska over the final two innings to pick up the save.

In the nightcap, Hudson jumped out to a 4-0 first-inning lead on its way to a 6-4 victory.

Taylar Zarfos had three hits and scored a run while Edholm was 2-for-3 with a double, run scored and two RBI. Hayes also doubled in a run and Graskewicz had two hits, two runs scored and an RBI, while Mat Drew had a run-scoring single and Adam Dardine walked twice and scored twice.

Cory Larson picked up the win on the mound, allowing two earned runs on four hits while striking out two and walking three. Lenzen needed just six pitches in a scoreless seventh to pick up the save.

Hudson wasted a great pitching effort by Dierke in its 2-0 loss to Eau Claire Memorial last Tuesday. Dierke went the distance and struck out 11 while allowing just four hits and two walks. Both Old Abes' runs were unearned.

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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