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Legion splits to stay two games over .500

Hudson's Ben Christensen tries unsuccessfully to get under the tag of River Falls' third baseman Curtis Christensen while trying to go from first to third on a single by Kory Koller in the first inning of last Wednesday's American Legion baseball game at Grandview Park. Photo by Bob Burrows

The Hudson American Legion baseball team split its last four games to bring its record to 7-5 on the season.

Hudson dropped a 7-3 decision to River Falls last Wednesday and split a doubleheader at Chippewa Falls Thursday before pulling out a 4-3, extra-inning win over Menomonie Monday at Grandview Park.

Hudson's latest victory came when Jeff Schmitz sprinted home with the winning run on a passed ball in the bottom of the ninth after singling and moving to third on a double by Kory Koller.

Hudson forced extra innings when Austin Lenzen singled in Derek Krumrei in the bottom of the sixth to tie the score 3-3.

"What a thrilling game to be a part of," Legion head coach Dan Pavlue said about Monday's win. "The players battled back very nicely after going down by a run."

Hudson took a 2-0 lead in the first when Gordon Johnson and Andy Edholm both walked and moved up a base on a passed ball. Johnson scored on a groundout by Koller and Edholm came home on another passed ball.

Menomonie scored three runs in the fifth to take a 3-2 lead before Hudson tied it with a run in the sixth. Hudson had runners in scoring position in both the seventh and eighth innings but couldn't push a run across until Schmitz's dash home in the bottom of the ninth.

Schmitz also picked up the win in relief of Edholm, who pitched the first eight innings, allowing three runs on five hits with three strikeouts and two walks. Schmitz struck out two and walked two while not allowing a run in the ninth.

Dardine and Jake Hayes each had two hits in the win.

Pavlue said Monday's win might have been the best defensive game Hudson has played this season.

"We didn't give them many free bases and the pitching was superb," He said. "I'm very proud of the way the guys handled themselves throughout the game, and we were able to pull out the victory."

Last Wednesday, River Falls scored five runs in the top of the seventh to defeat Hudson, 7-3.

Hudson's Beau Hommes and River Falls' Greg Cheever were locked in a pitcher's duel through four innings. The pair of lefties kept the game scoreless until each team scored two runs in the fifth inning. River Falls then broke the game open in their half of the seventh and the Raiders added a run in the bottom of the inning on a solo home run by Luke Hanson to make the final 7-3.

Hanson was 2-for-4 with two RBI to lead Hudson while Koller was 2-for-4 with a triple and a run batted in. Krumrei added two singles in the loss.

Thursday at Chippewa Falls, Hudson dropped the first game, 2-1, before winning the nightcap, 9-1.

Hanson scored Hudson's only run in the opener in the top of the first when he walked, stole second and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Edholm. Lenzen took the loss on the mound, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out two and walking five in 5 2/3 innings of work.

In the nightcap, Schmitz picked up the complete game win, allowing just one unearned run and four hits while striking out three and walking none.

Ben Christensen and Hanson had RBI singles in the second and Krumrei drove in a run with a base hit in the fifth to help Hudson take a 4-0 lead. The locals broke the game open with five runs in the sixth, highlighted by a bases-clearing triple by Koller.

"The first game was a tough one to swallow," Pavlue said. "Austin threw a great game on the mound, but we just couldn't string together enough offense to get the victory. The boys were challenged after the first game to some out with more excitement and emotion, and they definitely responded well. Hats off to Schmitz for his unbelievable pitching performance, and to the team as a whole for bouncing back after a tough start to the day."

Hudson will next compete in the Falls Classic Tournament this weekend in River Falls. The team will open play Friday, July 10 at 4 p.m. against Chippewa Falls. Saturday, July 11, Hudson will face Red Wing at 10 a.m. and Rosemount at 6 p.m.

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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