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Fish handed first SCVBL loss

River Falls Fighting Fish pitcher Jaxin Larson winds up to deliver a pitch to the plate in the Fish's 8-5 loss to the New Richmond Millers Friday, June 15, in New Richmond. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

Rookie Mitchell Feyereisen's walk-off grand slam gave the River Falls Fighting Fish a 6-2 win over the Champlin LoGators Wednesday, June 13, before the Fish split a pair of St. Croix Valley Baseball League games over the weekend to slip into a tie with the Spring Valley Hawks for first place in the SCVBL's North Division at 4-1 each.

Feyereisen, a 2017 River Falls High School graduate in his first season with the Fish, stepped to the plate with the bases loaded, two outs and the score tied 2-2 before ripping a two-strike pitch over the left field fence to end the game.

Lucas Luedtke led off the inning with a single and Josh Eidem walked before both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Spencer Kempf. Feyereisen's former Wildcat teammate and fellow Fish rookie Dylan Penny drew a two-out walk to keep the inning alive before Feyereisen sent the fourth pitch he saw over the fence for the first home run of his town ball career.

River Falls took a 2-0 lead in the fourth when Brian Giebel doubled in Brian Grove and scored on a Champlin error. Grove finished 2-for-4 in the win. Champlin tied the score with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth.

Brady Stocker started on the mound and allowed two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and four walks before Penny came on to record the last out with two runners on in the seventh. Andy Kemper allowed one hit while striking out two over the final two innings and earned the victory thanks to Feyereisen's heroics.

Two nights later the Fish took a 3-0 SCVBL record into New Richmond to face the 0-3 Millers but it was the home team who came out on top with an 8-5 victory.

River Falls managed just four hits over the first six innings with their only run coming in the top of the third when Feyereisen was hit by a pitch leading off and scored on a one-out single by Grove.

New Richmond led 8-1 before River Falls scored four in the top of the seventh on a two-run double by Feyereisen and RBI singles from Grove and Giebel, but that's as close as they could get. Grove had four of the Fish's eight hits.

Rookie Jaxin Larson took the loss on the mound, allowing five runs, just two earned, on eight hits in four innings of work. Sam Keran gave up three runs in one inning before TJ Wink kept the Millers scoreless over the final three innings.

The Fish bounced back Saturday at Hager City behind 8 2/3-innings of two-hit ball from Weston Lombard and a three-hit night from Grove to stay tied with Spring Valley for first place in the North Division of the SCVBL.

Lombard struck out nine and allowed just one earned run before Luedtke came on to strike out the potential tying run to earn the save.

Grove scored River Falls' first two runs of the game, on a single by Luedtke in the first inning and a two-run triple along with Adam Stuessel in the fourth, to give River Falls a 3-0 lead. Joel Schaffer doubled and scored on a fielder's choice by Trevor Gutting in the fifth to make it a 4-0 game before Hager City scored its only run on a single, two stolen bases and a fielder's choice in the sixth.

Trey Larson, Luedtke and Eidem had two hits each as the Fish outhit the Skeeters, 12-2.

River Falls, now 11-3 overall, will host a rematch with New Richmond Wednesday, June 20, at 7:30 p.m. before a weekend road trip at the Hayward Hawks Friday, June 22 at 7:30 p.m., the Osseo Merchants Saturday, June 23 at 3 p.m., and the Elmwood Expos at Elmwood's brand new Sportsman's Park Sunday, June 24, at 1 p.m.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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