The River Falls Fighting Fish lived up to their nickname at the Wisconsin Baseball Association State Tournament Saturday in Marshfield, but it wasn’t enough to make it to Sunday’s final four.
After defeating the host Marshfield Chaparrals 7-3 in Friday night’s tourney opener, the Fish rallied for six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning Saturday against the Holmen Features, only to see the Features get a three-run home run to advance to the state semifinals with an 11-8 win.
Holmen lost to the eventual state champion Haugen Knights in Sunday’s semifinal round before Haugen defeated the Spooner Cardinals, 5-4, in the title game.
River Falls trailed Holmen 6-1 before getting a run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI double by Lucas Luedtke.
Both teams got a run in the fifth, with River Falls’ coming on back-to-back singles by Carter Elliott and Kyle Fritz and an RBI groundout by Trevor Gutting.
Another Holmen run in the sixth extended the Features’ lead to 8-2 before things got really interesting in the bottom of the eighth when the Fish scored six runs on four hits, two walks, a balk and an error.
Elliott drilled a one-out double to get things going and scored on a base hit by Fritz. Gutting and Josh Eidem followed with singles to load the bases before Trey Larson singled in Gutting to keep the bases full.
Denzer, Ludtke and Spencer Diedrich all drew two-out walks to force in three runs and make it an 8-7 game before a balk by the Holmen pitcher brought home the tying run and gave River Falls new life.
It was short-lived, however, as Holmen got a single and a walk to open the ninth, followed by a three-run home run to take an 11-8 lead. The Fish had two runners on with no outs in the bottom of the ninth but couldn’t produce any more runs.
Elliott went 3-for-5 at the plate with a double and two runs scored and Fritz had three hits and an RBI while Larson singled, doubled, scored and drove in a run.
The Fish used five pitchers in the game, with draftee James Georgakas getting tagged with the loss after allowing the three-run homer in the top of the ninth. Fritz worked the first five innings and Charlie Griffin lasted one-third of an inning before Elliott and Georgakas threw an inning-and-a-third each and Luedtke got the final out.
The night before Jake Lindsay went the distance in the Fish’s 7-3 victory over Marshfield. Lindsay struck out 11 and didn’t walk a batter while allowing two earned runs on 12 hits.
Denzer and Luedtke had the big bats for River Falls with three hits each, including doubles, and Luedtke drove in three runs while Denzer scored three times. Diedrich contributed three RBI with a single and a double while Elliott added a run-scoring single.
River Falls, the 2021 St. Croix Valley Baseball League champions, ended the season with a record of 36-7.