The 2021 St. Croix Valley Baseball League season officially came to an end on Saturday, Aug. 21 after the River Falls Fighting Fish and Prescott Pirates lost their final games in Marshfield at the …
The 2021 St. Croix Valley Baseball League season officially came to an end on Saturday, Aug. 21 after the River Falls Fighting Fish and Prescott Pirates lost their final games in Marshfield at the Wisconsin Baseball Association State Championship Tournament.
The Fighting Fish and Pirates won their first round of games Friday night in Marshfield. The Fighting Fish beat the Marshfield Chaparrals 7-3 on the back of a complete game from Jack Lindsay on the mound, who only gave up three runs and struck out 11 batters. The Fighting Fish moved on to face off the Holmen Features the next afternoon.
The Pirates played their first game against the Eau Claire Cavaliers in Marshfield Friday night, crushing them with a final score of 13-1. Both teams were set to face the Spooner Cardinals on Saturday and had to beat them to remain in contention for the state title.
The Fighting Fish played first on Saturday against the Holmen Features. The Features scored first in the game with two runs in the top of the first on three hits. The Fighting Fish couldn’t get their bats going through the first two innings while the Features struck again in the top of the third inning, scoring an additional four runs on six hits to extend their lead to 6-0.
The Fighting Fish finally got a run on the board in the bottom of the fourth, thanks to a two-out single by right fielder Ty Denzer and a double to follow in the next at bat by second baseman Lucas Luedtke, making the score 6-1 going into the fifth.
The Features answered the first run from the Fish in the top of the fifth to extend their lead to 7-1. The Fish were able to make up another run in the bottom half of the fifth inning thanks to two hits, two walks, an error and interference from a runner to make the score 7-2 going into the sixth.
The Features didn’t even have to get a hit to score another run in the top of the sixth as they scored one run on three walks and a wild pitch that made the game 8-2. The Fish were able to make some noise in the bottom of the sixth, getting the bases loaded but failing to capitalize, leaving the game at 8-2 through six full.
The seventh inning remained scoreless for both teams as fans stretched. The Features couldn’t score a run in the top of the eighth, keeping the game at 8-2, The bottom of the eighth saw the Fighting Fish do what they have done all year, compete their hardest to try and get a win. Thanks to four hits, an error, two walks, and two balks, the Fish were able to bat around and tie the game 8-8 while also seeing the Features third baseman get ejected when he argued with umpires for their call on the second balk.
Just when the game looked to be turning in favor of the Fighting Fish, the Features reclaimed their lead in the top of the ninth, thanks to a three-run home run to make the game 11-8. The Fish were able to get a couple of runners on in the bottom of the ninth, but did not get any offense going beyond that. The Features won 11-8, ending the Fighting Fish’s season.
The Pirates played a lower scoring game against the Spooner Cardinals later that evening. The game ended a half hour before midnight with a Cardinals victory 3-2 over the Pirates.
“It's always an accomplishment and an honor just to be able to get to the WPA finals,” said Fighting Fish manager Josh Eidem. “That's something we always try to remind our guys that there's a lot of teams that that are already starting to think about watching college football at this time of the year. So the chance to get there is great, and Marshfield just like everybody has, they just did a great job hosting. It’s always just a really cool atmosphere.”
“It’s everyone’s goal to make it to that championship game of the tournament,” said Pirates manager Michael Lytle. “Us and River Falls are obviously familiar with each other, but would’ve handled it like we were playing any other team, with the exception of using their tendencies to game plan against. The state tournament is always something our guys look forward to. Being able to see teams that we don’t regularly see throughout the year always adds another element going into games as well.”
For the Fighting Fish, Jake Lindsay led the team to victory on Friday night with his complete game against Marshfield. Eidem was all the more impressed with Lindsay finishing his own season on top.
“He gave up some runs early on Friday nights and then he just bared down. He threw a complete game, he threw 140 pitches, which we don't, we don't normally do. We try to protect our pitchers but he just wasn't going to come off the mound in it. Every game at the finals is a must when you put the team on his back that night. So that was pretty impressive,” said Eidem.
When reflecting on the postseason performances, Lytle praised Pirates infielder Mike Brookshaw for his playing time in Marshfield.
“He had another great postseason performance both at the plate and in the field. Very proud of how all of our guys performed this weekend and look forward to having them all back next year,” said Lytle. “We thought we had a good chance to go deep into the playoffs this year, and we did. We came up shorter than we had hoped and didn’t have things go our way last weekend. But that’s baseball.”