HUDSON, Wis. -- When the high school baseball season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic this spring, junior Owen Anderson figured he’d played his last game with senior teammates Jack Erickson and Teddy Donna.
But the three Raiders have found a new way to represent Hudson together this summer by playing town ball with the Hudson River Rats.
“I was kind of shocked just because it all came at once,” Anderson said about losing his junior season of high school ball. “But I was able to find an outlet with this team from Blaine and I’ve been able to play tournaments in Iowa and Missouri with them. Now playing with the River Rats on top of it, with my guys who I thought I wouldn’t be able to play with again, this helps me get through it.”
Anderson was poised for another strong season this spring in an effort to improve his recruiting stock after earning All-Big Rivers Conference honorable mention as a sophomore, while Erickson had already earned a baseball scholarship to Creighton University after back-to-back All-BRC seasons. But that didn’t soften the blow of losing his senior year with the Raiders.
“We had really high hopes going into this season,” he said. “At least I get to keep playing ball, but a lot of our seniors aren’t going to continue, so I really feel bad for those guys.”
One of those guys is Donna, who will attend Dunwoody College and study to be an electrician. He said he was looking forward to helping the Raiders contend for a BRC title in his final season of high school ball.
“I was really bummed out,” he said. “New coach, we had a really good legion season last year, and I was really excited to see how we compared against the other teams in the conference. But it’s really nice to come in here and get to play with the Rats. It’s a fun time and I really like it.”
All three played in last Wednesday’s game against the River Falls Fighting Fish, with Anderson starting at third base, Erickson at shortstop and Donna throwing the final two innings on the mound. Anderson singled and scored a run, Erickson singled, scored and drove in a run, and Donna struck out three and allowed two earned runs in a 10-6 loss.
Erickson said he’s been watching the River Rats play since he was little, so getting to play town ball with them now is “really cool.”
“It’s a great time,” he said. “Everybody is fun and it’s a great atmosphere. They just love the game and they’re just out here to play. I can’t be thankful enough to Frenchy (manager Chris LaBreche) and all the guys. They welcomed us in right away and we’ve just found our place on this team.”
“It is fun,” Anderson added. “It’s a lot more relaxed than high school baseball and it’s just nice to get some more ABs that you lost during the high school season.”
Two nights after the Rats’ loss to River Falls, Erickson homered, singled and scored twice and Donna allowed one run over the final three innings as the Rats posted a 7-2 victory over the Ellsworth Hubbers.
Isaiah Grancorvitz also had a home run and three hits while Max Elliott allowed one unearned run and struck out seven over the first six innings to earn the win on the mound.
Last week was Donna’s first two games of the season with the River Rats, and he said it’s fun to watch and learn from the older guys. He said he’s looking forward to joining a long list of Hudson High School graduates who have gone on to play for the town ball team, including current players Grancorvitz, Elliott, Hunter Frey, Sam Glade, Sean Barnard and Mitch Lewis.
“I just feel right at home,” Donna said. “They’re really nice and treat me like a good teammate. It’s a really fun time. I enjoy it and I’m looking forward to the future with them.”
Nearly midway through the abbreviated St. Croix Valley Baseball League season the River Rats are 2-2 with five games left. They’ll host a pair of games at Grandview Park this weekend, against the Prescott Pirates (3-2) Saturday, July 25, and against the New Richmond Millers (1-4), Sunday, July 26, both at 1 p.m. They’ll wrap up SCVBL play next weekend at the Spring Valley Hawks Friday, July 31, home against the Elmwood Expos Saturday, Aug. 1 at 1 p.m., and at the Bay City Bombers Sunday, Aug. 2.
The SCVBL Tournament is scheduled for Aug. 5-9 at First National Bank of River Falls Field. The bottom four teams during the regular season will have play-in games Wednesday, Aug. 5, to determine the final two spots in the 8-team double-elimination tournament. The top two teams will advance to the Wisconsin Baseball Association State Tournament in Spooner Aug. 14-16 in Spooner.