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Baseball finding its groove

Hudson's Jack Erickson (10) gets his hand under the tag of River Falls second baseman Jake Lindsay to reach second on a two-base error in the first inning of the Raiders' 3-1 loss to the Wildcats Friday, May, 4, at Grandview Park. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
Hudson third baseman Luke Healy snags a hard ground ball down the line before throwing the batter out at first base for the final out of the top of the first inning in the Raiders' 3-1, extra-inning loss to River Falls Friday, May, 4, at Grandview Park. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

Hudson baseball coach Trevor Peck knew it was only a matter of time.

After struggling in four losses to open the season, the Raiders settled down and swept Menomonie in a home-and-home series last Tuesday and Thursday before pushing Big Rivers Conference co-leader River Falls to extra innings on Friday.

The Raiders beat Menomonie, 2-0 and 9-4 before falling 3-1 to River Falls.

"It was a really strong week for the guys," Peck said. "They really turned around their pitching and played solid defense the whole week through. Sweeping Menomonie was a great confidence boost and taking River Falls nine innings after a tough loss to them the week before really shows the mental toughness of our guys."

Jonah Becken pitched six innings of two-hit ball and Ben Gilbert and Max Stubbendick drove in a run apiece in the Raiders' 2-0 victory over the Mustangs Tuesday, May 1 at home.

Back-to-back doubles by Jack Erickson and Gilbert in the bottom of the first gave Hudson a 1-0 lead before Stubbendick doubled in David Miller in the bottom of the fourth.

Becken struck out three and walked two over the first six innings before Erickson struck out the side to earn the save in the seventh.

Thursday at Menomonie, the Raiders scored six runs in the top of the seventh to post a come-from-behind 9-4 victory.

Trailing 4-3, Stubbendick delivered a bases-loaded single to drive in two runs and Erickson followed with a double to score two more. Erickson scored on a sacrifice fly by Gilbert before Jack Klementz singled in a run to make the final 9-4.

Luke Healy picked up the win on the mound in relief of Gilbert.

Friday at home against River Falls, which the Raiders had lost to 13-3 a week earlier, Hudson jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Stubbendick led off with a walk, advanced to third when Erickson's base hit was misplayed by the Wildcat left fielder and scored on a ground out by Elijah Rude.

That was all the scoring the Raiders could muster, however, as River Falls tied it up with a run in the third and scored twice in the top of the ninth to escape with a 3-1 victory.

Despite ending the week with a loss, Peck said the Raiders made some big strides in their last three games.

"We are still working on finding the right rotation but our juniors and seniors have really stepped up their play and leadership, and our freshman and sophomores who we have brought up are filling some big roles," he said. "Our goal is to keep building off of last week and to be playing our best ball when regionals roll around."

The Raiders, now 2-5 on the season, hosted Eau Claire Memorial Tuesday, May 8, and will visit Memorial Thursday, May 10, before a nonconference game at home against Woodbury Friday, May 11.

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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