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Rough weekend for River Rats

Hudson third baseman Brent Blegen can't catch up to a hard smash down the line in the top of the fourth inning of the River Rats St. Croix Valley Baseball League game against the Prescott Pirates last Sunday at Grandview Park. Prescott scored five runs in the inning and went on to hand Hudson its second loss of the weekend, 7-2. (Hudson Star-Observer photos by Bob Burrows)1 / 2
Hudson's Ben Christensen connects for a leadoff single in the first inning of the River Rats 7-2 loss to the Prescott Pirates last Sunday at Grandview Park.2 / 2

The Hudson River Rats road to the playoffs hit a detour over the weekend as the team dropped back-to-back St. Croix Valley Baseball League games for the first time all season to slip into fifth place in the SCVBL standings.

Both losses came at home, 8-0 to the Bay City Bombers on Saturday and 7-2 to the league leading Prescott Pirates Sunday, and snapped a five-game River Rats winning streak.

Prescott improved to 9-1 and maintained a one-half game lead over the River Falls Fighting Fish while the Ellsworth Hubbers are third at 10-3. All three have already clinched Wisconsin Baseball Association playoff berths with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

The Menomonie Eagles are in fourth place at 8-4 with Hudson right behind at 7-4. Five teams -- Menomonie, Hudson, New Richmond (6-5), Bay City (6-7) and Elmwood -- are battling for the league's three remaining playoff spots.

Hudson travels to River Falls this Saturday, July 20, for a 1 p.m. game with the Fish and will host the Hager City Skeeters (4-9) Sunday, July 21, at 1 p.m. at Grandview Park. They wrap up the regular season next weekend with a pair of road games, at New Richmond Saturday, July 27, at 7:30 p.m., and at Elmwood Sunday, July 28, at 1 p.m.

Last Saturday against Bay City, Brian Sparstad gutted out all nine innings on the mound but the River Rats bats were silent in an 8-0 loss to the Bombers.

"Spars' last start on the mound came in late May so it took him about four innings to find himself," Hudson player-manager Jason Hollar noted. "Once he settled down he looked like the pitcher we have come to know in past seasons. However, we didn't give him a whole lot of help on defense in that we committed a lot of errors and didn't execute very well at the plate."

Sunday the River Rats hosted Prescott, winners of eight straight league games and nine of their last 11 overall. Hudson took a 2-1 lead on a two-run single by Austin Booher in the bottom of the third, but the Pirates broke the game open with five runs in the top of the fourth on their way to a 7-2 victory.

Travis Borowicz held the Pirates to just one run over the final four innings but the River Rats couldn't produce any more runs.

Hudson needs to win at least one of its remaining four games to become playoff eligible, something Hollar believes the team will do.

"Despite dropping two games this weekend we are still sitting in good shape at 7-4 in league play and can still make the WBA playoffs by playing well in the last two weeks of the season," he said.

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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