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No more wiggle room for Rats

Hudson pitcher Paul Johnson fires a pitch to the plate in the River Rat's 5-3 loss to the River Falls Fighting Fish Saturday, July 21, at Grandview Park. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
Hudson's Mitch Lewis dives back to first base on a pickoff attempt in the first inning of the River Rats' 5-3 loss to the River Falls Fighting Fish Saturday, July 21, at Grandview Park. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

The Hudson River Rats need to win their final two St. Croix Valley Baseball League games, and get some help, in order to qualify for next month's Wisconsin Baseball Association playoffs.

The Rats dropped two crucial league games at home over the weekend, losing 5-3 to the River Falls Fighting Fish Saturday, July 21, and 9-3 to the division leading Spring Valley Hawks Sunday, July 22.

Sunday's loss was the fifth straight for Hudson and dropped their record to 6-8 in SCVBL play. With two games remaining, at the Menomonie Eagles Friday, July 27, and home against the Osceola Braves Sunday, July 29, the best the Rats can hope for is an 8-8 finish, leaving them at the mercy of the WBA selection committee for a playoff spot. Nine wins would have guaranteed Hudson a berth in the playoffs.

Saturday the Rats came up two runs short against River Falls, despite outhitting the Fighting Fish 8-7. Hudson came up short in three seperate innings with runners in scoring position and less than two outs while River Falls scored two runs in the top of the fifth inning to take the lead for good, 4-3.

The Fighting Fish jumped out to a 2-0 first-inning lead before Hudson got a run back in the second on an RBI double by Luke LeMay. Back-to-back run-scoring singles by Mike Hommes and Brady Gunderson in the third put Hudson ahead 3-2 but that was all the scoring the River Rats could muster, hitting into inning-ending double plays with runners in scoring position in both the sixth and seventh innings.

Hommes and LeMay finished with two hits each while Paul Johnson took the loss on the mound, allowing four runs, two earned, on seven hits in seven innings of work.

River Falls clinched a spot in the WBA postseason with their ninth win.

Sunday Spring Valley scored six runs in the top of the seventh on their way to their 10th win of the season. Hudson had taken a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the first on two Hawk errors, an RBI single by Joe Patterson and a sacrifice fly by Alex Barnard.

LeMay and Paul Johnson had two hits each while Sam Chase lasted just two innings on the mound while taking the loss.

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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