Amateur town ball hasn't changed much over the years, but the way players deliver pep talks certainly has.
Following his team's embarrassing 5-4 loss to St. Croix Falls last Sunday, River Falls Fighting Fish third baseman and 11-year veteran Nathan Brom delivered a fiery e-mail to his teammates about where he felt the team should be. The Fish responded in their next game by hitting four home runs and pounding out 16 hits in a 10-6 victory Saturday over Hudson.
"The kind of leadership message that Brom brings to this team; he is unquestionably the leader, on the field and off, and has always been, since our days at UW-River Falls, been a great leader," Fish player-manager Josh Eidem, a former teammate at UW-RF with Brom, said.
"Anyway, 10 years ago that speech is given in the dugout or down the right field line and guys are there, they nod, and they get it. Now, in 2009, you can type up the same speech, send it out, and each guy does the nodding on his own, in front of his computer, and he gets it."
They got it, all right. After falling behind 3-2 after two, the Fish got top Hudson ace Brian Sparstad and outscored the River Rats 8-3 the rest of the way, sparked by a pair of home runs by Brian Giebel and one each from Eidem and Sam Giliuson.
Due to a scheduling conflict in Hudson, the game was moved to Ellsworth's Robert H. Young Field, the home of the Ellsworth Hubbers.
Giebel finished 4-for-5 at the plate with two home runs, three runs scored and two RBI while Giliuson had four hits, including a homer and three RBI and Eidem was 3-for-5 with a home run, two runs batted in and a run scored. Joe Paatalo added three hits, including a double, and two RBI while Ryan Gilbertson contributed a pair of hits and scored a run.
Eidem said once the Fish started rolling, they fed off the message in Brom's e-mail.
"You could see the difference in the dugout on Saturday," he said. "It was as if General Patton himself had fired up the troops that morning. But nope, it was just a Monday night e-mail,"
Luke Meier, Seth Bugar and Sean Anderson combined to limit Hudson's 11 hits to six runs, three coming in the first two innings. Meier started and earned the win, allowing three earned runs on five hits while striking out five and walking four in 4 1/3 innings.
The victory was the Fish's second in two games at Robert H. Young Field this season. Earlier this season they defeated the Hubbers 4-2 in Ellsworth.
"We really like playing in Ellsworth," Eidem said. "I think if we played every game there, Giebel would be drafted and Brom would become the Brewers' hitting coach. We hit four solo home runs in that game. I don't think we'd hit four all year."
The Fish are hoping that trend will continue this weekend when they return to Robert H. Young Field for the Ellsworth Tournament. They will open play Saturday morning at 10 a.m. against the New Richmond Millers, who they defeated two weeks ago by a score of 4-3 in New Richmond.
A win Saturday morning will put the Fish into a semifinal game Saturday night at 8 p.m. If they lose they will play Sunday morning at 10 a.m.
The Fish are currently 6-3 and tied for third place with New Richmond for second place in the North Division of the St. Croix Valley Baseball League.