The Fourth of July didn't slow down the Spring Valley Hawks in their two games following the mid-week holiday. Despite nasty gnats and 90-degree weather, the Hawks were able to pull together two wins over the weekend while their opponents seemed to still be recovering from Independence Day festivities.
The Hawks' (15-5) first post-Fourth win came on Saturday, July 7, when they defeated the Hudson River Rats (9-6) 8-2 at home thanks to Kyle Duex's pitching, Dylan Willett's and Casey Ryan's performances at the plate and savvy base running by the home team.
The Rats' only lead, which was produced by a first-inning RBI single from Joe Patterson, was overturned in the second inning after Willett doubled on the first pitch of the frame, advanced to third on a Joe Helmer single, then stole home while Helmer distracted the Rats in his attempt to steal second base. Helmer eventually reached home on a Duex grounder, giving the Hawks a 2-1 lead before the third.
Spring Valley managed another run in the bottom of the third when Scott Sayles hit a one-run single, allowing Casey Ryan to score before the Rats' Brady Gunderson homered on a fly ball hit over the left field fence.
The score remained at 3-2 until the bottom of the seventh when the Hawks took advantage of Hudson's pitching change and scored five runs. Hudson's reliever, Devin Reinhardt, walked the first four batters he saw before giving up hits to Willett and Helmer who brought in the game's final four runs. Willett and Ryan both recorded three hits against the Rats to lead the Hawks in their 11-hit win.
Duex pitched a complete game and held the Rats to two earned runs on six hits. The River Falls native recorded eight strikeouts in his 8-2 win.
Paul Johnson, Reinhardt and Same Chase split their time on the mound for the Rats, and Johnson took the loss after allowing three runs on seven hits in his six innings pitched.
The Hawks kept it clean in the field, while the Rats made three errors.
Spring Valley went on to serve the Osceola Braves a 7-0 loss on Sunday, July 8, and remain at the top of the standings of the North Division of the St. Croix Valley Baseball League. They return to action on Saturday, July 14, when they head to First Financial Bank of River Falls Field to take on the Fighting Fish at 1 p.m.