Fighting Fish

Posted 6/28/22

from Page 20 After scoreless second, third and fourth innings, River Falls tacked on another run in the bottom of the fifth when Jaden Schwantz hit an RBI double that scored Kyle Fritz from first …

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Fighting Fish

Posted

from Page 20

After scoreless second, third and fourth innings, River Falls tacked on another run in the bottom of the fifth when Jaden Schwantz hit an RBI double that scored Kyle Fritz from first base to take a 2-0 lead over the visiting Royals.

Throughout the first five innings, Lind say’s pitching for the Fighting Fish was objectively excellent. In his five innings of work on the mound, Lindsay allowed only two hits, zero earned runs and tallied three strikeouts. Eidem spoke about Lindsay’s performance against one of the best lineups in Minnesota.

“I thought the guys played well tonight and it was good to see Jake Lindsay come out,” Eidem said. “He’s one of our top starting pitchers and I think this game turns out diuerently if we leave him in a little longer." Lindsay was pulled from the game after his fine shutout innings on the mound. In the remaining four innings, the Royals scored eight runs and ran away with the game to secure the 8-2 victory and hand River Falls its third loss of the season. Eidem addressed the decision to pull Lindsay a little earlier than he would have liked.

"He's just starting to get loose and get back into it for the summer,” Eidem said.

"So, to get five innings out of him I think was good. So why pull him? This is only his third or fourth outing.”

In addition to Lindsay starting to get ramped back up for the season, Eidem made it clear that he and the rest of the Fighting Fish are much more interested in winning games in August – playou season – than June during the regular slate of games.

“We’re playing for August rather than June,” Eidem said. “This is probably on paper one of the most talented teams we’ve had in the history of the team. It's just a really deep group. On a night like tonight, I think we had 22 guys in the dugout and you could have made two starting lineups that would compete in the St. Croix Valley League.”

Having 22 players on the roster isn’t typical for a townball team. Eidem spoke about what makes the large roster work and how this group of guys seems to have as much camaraderie as any group in River Falls history.

“It’s a deep team who really likes each other and that’s why it’s working,” Eidem said. “To have that many guys, it also has some challenges because everyone wants to play.”

Like many other townball teams, new talent is always coming into the system. Some of the Fish are familiar young faces such as Ragan Pinnow, who graduated from River Falls High School a couple of weeks ago and played an important role on that baseball team this spring.

Jaden Schwantz, another River Falls grad- uate, in the class of 2020, is spending his first year with the Fighting Fish after returning from Winona State University for his freshman year of college.

“Ragan Pinnow who graduated this year and Jaden Schwantz who just finished his first year at Winona, we've added some young guys,” Eidem said. “We’ve added some speed and I think that’s why this team is a little better than last year.”

Since its inception in 2008, the River Falls Fighting Fish has become one of the premier townball programs in Wisconsin and have the hardware to prove it. While adding new talent is great, Eidem says the program’s culture will be the thing that pushes the team over the top in August.

“Talent is nothing without culture,” Eidem said. “When you take a team that likes to be together and enjoys laughing and joking in the dugout, that’s what’s going to make the diuerence for us in August." The Fighting Fish have been playing regular season games for nearly two months and the roster has all but been solidified. There has been a top-tier roster and hitting lineup established. Because of the abundance of talent on the roster, some of the guys near the bottom of the order aren’t used to batting that low. Eidem spoke about the challenges that present and how the roster is still settling into roles.

“I think it’s guys settling into roles,” Eidem said. “We’ve got guys hitting in the bottom of the order who have spent their whole life at the top of the order. They maybe haven’t bunted ever in their life or maybe did it once in fifth grade. Cleaning stuu up is those little things and being good situationally.”

Eidem has been playing for River Falls for more than two decades and has seen teams come and go, as well as thousands of players that have worn various uniforms throughout Pierce County. As of the 2022 season, the St. Croix Valley Baseball League has 10 teams including River Falls.

At one point, the league was up to 12 or 13 teams and talent was starting to be diluted because of it. Now, they’re back to 11 rosters and Eidem believes this is as good as the league has been in many years.

“This is where the league was when I started 22 years ago, seeing that level of competition every night,” Eidem said. “We’ve only lost one game in the league and we go down to Bay City, on paper, we should crush them. But no, it’s a 6-4 game and we have to compete every day. It’s competitive.”

River Falls’ 14-3 record puts them in prime position to win another St. Croix Valley Baseball League Championship later this summer and make a deep run into the postseason. Eidem has seen many iterations of the Fish and he believes this one is special.

The next Fighting Fish home game is on Wednesday, July 6, with the first pitch slated for 7:30 p.m.