The Hudson River Rats 2019 season ended one week earlier than a year ago with a 6-4 loss to the Ashland Merchants in the first round of the Wisconsin Baseball Association playoffs Saturday, Aug. 10, in Spooner.
Last year the Rats were the only one of six St. Croix Valley Baseball League postseason qualifiers to make it to the 8-team WBA finals. This year the SCVBL was shut out of the finals as all six league teams failed to make it past the first weekend of playoffs.
The Rats struck first against Ashland with three runs in the top of the second inning. Brent Blegen stroked a leadoff double and scored on a single by Brady Gunderson and Gunderson scored after back-to-back, two-out base hits from Luke LeMay and Mitch Lewis. LeMay later scored on a wild pitch to make it a 3-0 game.
The Rats’ lead didn’t last long, however, as Ashland matched Hudson’s run total in the bottom of the inning and scored three more in the third to take a 6-3 lead.
The Rats had two runners on in the top of the fourth and left the bases loaded in the seventh but didn’t push another run across until Lewis singled in LeMay in the eighth to make the final 6-4.
Lewis had three hits and two RBI in the loss and Blegan, Gunderson, LeMay and Blake Berger had two hits each as Hudson outhit Ashland 13-7. But the Rats left 11 runners on base and committed five errors in the field, leading to four unearned runs for the Merchants.
Sam Glade was saddled with the loss on the mound, allowing five runs, three earned, on two hits with no strikeouts and three walks in 2 1/3 innings. Noah Berger worked the final 5 2/3 and gave up one unearned run on five hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
The River Rats were one of four SCVBL teams to lose in the first round of the WBA playoffs Saturday. League champion River Falls was upset by fourth-seeded Brill, 8-3, and Spring Valley was edged by Marshfield 5-4 while New Richmond was shut out 5-0 by Spooner. Prescott won its first round game, 5-4, over Whitehall before losing to Chaseburg-Coon Valley 3-1 Sunday and Menomonie beat Whittlesey 7-0 Saturday but was eliminated with a 4-1 loss Sunday to Spooner.