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Baseball: River Rats playoff eligible

Hudson's Paul Johnson struck out 11 and allowed just a solo home run in a complete-game, 3-1 victory over the Menomonie Eagles Friday, July 27, in Menomonie. RiverTown Multimedia file photo

The Hudson River Rats needed to finish in the top six in the final St. Croix Valley Baseball League standings to be eligible for the Wisconsin Baseball Association postseason.

They did just that by beating Menomonie, 3-1, on the road Friday, July 27, and Osceola, 6-1, Sunday, July 29, at Grandview Park to finish with a record of 8-8 in league play.

The River Rats will now wait for the outcome of the WBA playoff meeting Tuesday, July 31, in Chippewa Falls, to determine their postseason future. The 32-team WBA tournament regionals will be played at four sites-- Eleva, Haugen, Stanley and Beef River-- the weekend of Aug. 10-12, with the final round Aug. 17-19 in Osseo.

Hudson and Osceola both entered Sunday's game with league records of 7-8, meaning the winner would become playoff eligible while the loser would spend August at the cabin.

Osceola scored an unearned run off Rats starter David Williams in the top of the first, but Hudson scored three times in the third to take a 3-1 lead. Matt Schwechler singled, stole second and went to third on a passed ball before scoring on a single by Mitch Lewis. Joe Patterson followed with a double to score Lewis before Brady Gunderson tripled in Patterson.

That was all the scoring the River Rats would need as David Williams and Max Elliott held the Braves scoreless the rest of the way. Williams worked the first six innings, allowing six hits with seven strikeouts and a walk, before Elliott struck out three in three hitless innings of relief.

Gunderson added an RBI double in the fifth inning and Brent Blegen and Lewis each singled in runs in the seventh to make the final 6-1.

Two nights earlier in Menomonie, Hudson starter Paul Johnson struck out 11 in a 3-1 complete-game victory over the Eagles. Johnson gave up 11 hits, but the only one that counted for the Eagles was a solo home run by Tanner Vavra in the bottom of the first.

Gunderson singled in Lewis in the third to tie the score and later in the inning Dennis Reinhardt was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in Gunderson with the go-ahead run.

Hudson got an insurance run in the sixth when Luke LeMay scored on a wild pitch. Menomonie left 12 runners on base while committing four errors.

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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