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River Rats on a roll, win last 9

Third baseman Brent Blegen fields a ground ball in the second inning of the River Rats' 4-3 win over Menomonie Saturday afternoon at Grandview Park. Blegen went 3-for-5 and scored two runs in the win. Photo by Bob Burrows

The Hudson River Rats won three more games last week to run their winning streak to a team-record nine in a row and move into sole possession of first place in the St. Croix Valley Baseball League's North Division.

The Rats defeated Osceola, 5-3, last Monday, Ellsworth, 16-4, Friday and Menomonie, 4-3, Saturday. They return to Osceola Friday night, July 17 for a 7:30 p.m. start at Oakey Park and wrap up divisional play Sunday afternoon, July 19 at St. Croix Falls.

Last week's three victories upped the Rats' record to 9-3 in SCVBL play, 14-8 overall. Hudson is currently alone in first place in the SCVBL, a game-and-a-half ahead of River Falls (7-4, 12-10). The Rats also sport the second best record in the SCVBL, one game behind South Division leader Prescott (10-2, 14-8).

The Rats latest win came courtesy of a bases-loaded walk to Chris Kein in the bottom of the ninth inning against Menomonie Saturday that snapped a 3-3 tie. Brent Blegen led off the inning with his third hit of the game, a single to left, followed by a walk to Joel Schaffer and a single by Jason Bast to lead the bases.

Paul Ruppert followed with a sharply hit ball to center for an out, but Davis Lenzen, who was running for Blegen, couldn't tag up and remained at third. Kein then walked on four straight pitches to give Hudson the win.

Blegen, Bast and Brian Rudesill all had three hits in the win while Schaffer doubled and homered. Tyler Dierke pitched the final 1 2/3 innings to earn the win in relief of starter Brian Sparstad.

Friday night at Ellsworth, The Rats pounded out 17 hits while Lenzen and Joel Carlson combined on a five-hitter in a 16-4, seven-inning win over the Hubbers.

Mitch Lewis went 4-for-5 with two RBI and three runs scored to lead the Rats while Kein was 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. Kein, Schaffer, Jason Hollar and Andy LaBrosse all had doubles in the win.

Last Monday at Osceola, the Rats played as the host team came home with a 5-3 victory, thanks to two hits each by Hollar and Lewis.

Dierke earned the win on the mound, allowing one earned run on eight hits while striking out seven and walking one. Travis Borowicz picked up the save, allowing two earned runs on four hits while striking out two and walking one in 2 2/3 innings of work.

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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