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Fish get first win over Mudhens

The River Falls Fighting Fish scored seven runs on just one hit, a single by newcomer Joe Paatalo, in the seventh inning on their way to their first victory of the season, a 9-3 win over the St. Paul Mudhens, Saturday in St. Paul.

Paatalo's single to right field highlighted a seventh inning that included five walks and two hit batters for the Fish and turned a 3-2 deficit into a 9-3 win.

Paatalo, an assistant coach with the River Falls High School baseball team, played 20 years with the St. Paul Merchants after a college career at Wichita State University.

"He adds a big bat to the middle of the lineup, something we've been lacking in over the last few years," Fish player/manager Josh Eidem said.

The game also marked the return of Brian Giebel, Ryan Gilbertson and Clint Kempf to the Fish lineup. The three former Wildcats missed the team's opener a week earlier while playing for their respective college teams.

Gilbertson went 2-for-4 with a triple, two RBI and a run scored in his season debut. He also made two diving catches in left field, where he has been moved to make room for Paatalo at first base.

"He looks just fine out there," Eidem said.

Eidem also had two hits in the win while Trevor Gutting doubled in a run and scored a run.

Five Fish pitchers combined to allow six hits in the win. Luke Meier started before being relieved by Sean Anderson in the fourth. Anderson worked three innings to earn the win before rookie Justin Peterson, Brandon Gilbertson and Rick Wells each threw an inning.

Eidem said veteran Dan Morgan is expected to get the start in Saturday's home opener against Menomonie, with newcomer Seth Bugar also seeing some action. The game begins at 1 p.m. at the high school varsity field with the first 50 fans receiving a free Fighting Fish Schedule, courtesy of Bowen's Garage.

Eidem said the Fish have deepened their pitching staff this season.

"We have enough of a staff right now that Trevor Gutting should be able to stay behind the plate, and I should be able to stay in the outfield where I belong too," he said. "We feel like we've put together a pretty solid club for 2009, so if we can get a few fortuitous bounces of the ball and stay healthy we should be in good shape."

The team's health has already taken a hit with the news that shortstop Adam Stuessel will be lost for the season to an arm injury.

"That obviously hurts," Eidem said. "But we feel like we're pretty solid from one to nine in the order."