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Fish consolation champs at PC

Fighting Fish third baseman Nathan Brom snags a hard line drive for the final out of the second inning in the Fish's game against the Hudson River Rats at the Plum City Tournament last Saturday morning. Bob Burrows photo

After an ugly start to the Plum City Memorial Day Tournament over the weekend, the River Falls Fighting Fish bounced back to win two straight games and the consolation championship.

The Fish were held to just one hit in a 14-0 loss to the Hudson River Rats in the tourney opener Saturday morning, but recovered to defeat the Elmwood Expos 12-2 Sunday before clinching the consolation championship with a 12-10 win over the Bay City Bombers on Monday. None of the games counted in the St. Croix Valley Baseball League standings.

"Despite that debacle against Hudson it was a good week for us," Fish player-manager Josh Eidem said. "We came back and played well on Sunday and Monday, and we do have a pretty resilient bunch of players."

Eidem had the only hit in Saturday's loss to Hudson, when the River Rats scored eight runs in the fourth inning and six in the seventh to post a 14-0 win.

The Fish turned the tables on Elmwood on Sunday, however, pounding out 11 hits, including a home run by Clint Kempf, in a 12-2, five-inning win.

Kempf was 2-for-2 with three runs scored in the win while Eidem had two hits and scored twice. Adam Stuessel contributed a pair of hits, including a double, and two RBI while Tyler Hunter was 2-for-2 with two RBI.

"It's been great to see our young guys step up early in the year," Eidem said about the team's former Wildcats, including Kempf, Stuessel, Hunter and winning pitcher Greg Cheever. "Tyler Hunter has gone from being a very good high school athlete to being a very good baseball player,"

Cheever struck out nine and didn't allow an earned run in picking up the complete-game, five-inning victory on the mound.

"Cheever threw the ball great on Sunday morning," Eidem said. "He looks very good now too."

The Fish won a slugfest against the Bay City Bombers Monday to win the consolation title. The two teams combined for 22 runs, 23 hits and eight errors in the game. Five of the miscues were made by the Bombers.

Eidem was 4-for-5 at the plate with two RBI and Trevor Gutting, another RFHS graduate, was 2-for-4 with a RBI and two runs scored. Kempf contributed a pair of hits and scored a run while Justin Peterson had a hit and scored three times.

Former Wildcats, and brothers, Brandon and Ryan Gilbertson earned the win and save, respectively. Brandon Gilbertson started and worked the first five innings, allowing six earned runs on seven hits, while Ryan Gilbertson stuck out two and allowed a meaningless hit in a scoreless seventh to earn the save.

The Fish, now 7-4 overall, 2-0 in the SCVBL, return home to host the Minneapolis River Rats in a non-league game Saturday at 1 p.m. at the high school field. The first 40 fans in attendance will receive a free magnet schedule, courtesy of Ptacek's IGA.

Sunday the Fish travel to Elmwood for a SCVBL game against the Expos beginning 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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