RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- Hudson entered the St. Croix Valley Baseball League Tournament on a four-game winning streak, including three wins on the final weekend of the regular season to move up from a potential play-in position to the No. 4 seed with a record of 5-4.
New Richmond, meanwhile, came in as the No. 9 seed in the 10-team tournament and had to beat Ellsworth, 5-1, in a play-in game Wednesday night to earn a spot in the 8-team double-elimination field.
Hudson went on to lose its first two tournament games, including a 2-1 loss to New Richmond in a Saturday afternoon elimination game, while the Millers went 2-2 and came up one game short of reaching Sunday’s state tournament qualifying round.
Saturday’s season-ending loss to New Richmond was hard to swallow for the River Rats, who had the first run of the game taken off the board in the second inning for batting out of order. It proved costly when the Millers got back-to-back doubles from Brett Forrest and Brock Luehman in the bottom of the fourth to take a 1-0 lead.
New Richmond loaded the bases in the fifth on a single by Blake Kretovics and back-to-back walks to Noah Towberman and Forrest before Kretovics scored on a passed ball to make it a 2-0 game.
Hudson got a two-out solo home run from Isaiah Grancorvitz in the top of the sixth to cut the lead in half but it wasn’t enough.
Hudson manager Chris LaBreche said the Rats batting mixup in the second inning wasn’t the reason they lost the game.
“We just didn’t execute today as well as we have all year,” he said. “And the winning run came on a passed ball. It just proves that you have to focus on every play.”
The game was a pitcher’s duel between New Richmond’s Charlie Thibodeau and Hudson’s Owen Anderson. Thibodeau allowed six hits and struck out three while Anderson gave up just four hits with three strikeouts and four walks.
“It was a well-pitched game,” LaBreche said. “I don’t think we had bad approaches. We put the ball in play. It’s just one of those games where it didn’t happen. If you could explain it, it would be the easiest thing in the world.”
New Richmond opened the tourney with a 5-1 win over Ellsworth in win-or-go-home game Wednesday night.
Forty-nine-year-old Miller veteran Jon Will doubled in three runs in the second inning to stake New Richmond to an early lead and Grant Reimenschneider allowed one run in six-plus innings to end the eighth-seeded Hubbers’ season.
Will’s bases-loaded double off the right field wall gave the Millers a 3-0 lead before Ellsworth got a run back in the bottom of the second inning. Kretovics gave the Millers a couple more insurance runs with a two-run homer to dead center in the top of the fifth to make the final 5-1.
Hudson didn’t fare as well in its tourney opener against fifth-seeded Elmwood Thursday night as the Expos scored four runs in the top of the second inning to take a 5-1 lead and held on to defeat the River Rats 9-6.
Hudson pulled to within a run twice, 5-4 in the fourth inning and 7-6 in the fifth, but couldn’t get over the hump.
Grancorvitz and Anderson each singled, doubled and drove in a run for Hudson while Luke LeMay had two hits and a run scored. Hunter Frey, Spencer Diedrich and Jason Hollar also drove in a run apiece for the River Rats.
Noah Berger took the loss on the mound, allowing seven earned runs on seven hits with one strikeout and four walks in five innings of work. Dennis Reinhardt gave up two runs on three hits with two strikeouts over the final two innings.
New Richmond’s first loss of the tournament came against eventual state qualifier and top seed River Falls, 6-3, later Thursday night. River Falls jumped out to a 5-0 lead on a grand slam by Brian Giebel in the bottom of the second inning and the Millers cut it to 5-3 in the third on an RBI single from Corbin Reiling and a two-run double from Towberman but that’s as close as they could get.
After beating Hudson 2-1 Saturday afternoon, the Millers’ season came to an end with a 13-7 loss to Elmwood Saturday night. The Expos went on to to drop a 7-3 decision to No. 2 seed Prescott in a state-qualifying game Sunday.