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Fish fly at NR; flop in SCF

An unfortunate overlap in early summer vacations forced River Falls Fighting Fish player-manager Josh Eidem to take matters into his own hands at St. Croix Falls Sunday -- literally.

Eidem pitched 11 innings in the Fish's St. Croix Valley Baseball League match-up with the River Bandits, only to watch as St. Croix Falls won the game, 5-4, in the bottom of the 13th inning against reliever Ryan Gilbertson, who was rubber-armed himself after throwing seven innings two nights earlier in a 4-3 Fish win at New Richmond.

Making matters worse, the win was the first of the season for the River Bandits in SCVBL play and came just one week after the Fish had routed the Bandits, 11-1 in eight innings in River Falls.

"Sunday's game was a real punch to the gut," Eidem said about the loss. "They threw a lefty that didn't top 60 miles an hour and we just weren't disciplined at the plate, so we made him look like he threw 90."

Eidem limited St. Croix Falls to just one run through the first seven innings but the Fish couldn't get on the scoreboard until Nathan Brom hit a two-run homer in the top of the eighth to give River Falls a 2-1 lead.

Eidem and the Fish entered the ninth with a 2-1 lead but St. Croix Falls tied the score on a two-out, dead-duck, RBI blooper that fell just out of reach of second baseman Sam Giliuson's reach.

With a short bullpen due to vacations, Eidem remained in the game through the 11th inning before turning the ball over to Gilbertson after the Fish had scored two runs to go ahead, 4-2, in the top of the 12th. But the Bandits responded with a two-out, two-run home run by catcher Steve Siqueiros to tie the score again.

After the Fish failed to score in their half of the 13th, Gilbertson got the first two outs of the inning before St. Croix Falls won it with an RBI double down the left field line by Gus Koecher.

"You know how sometimes you feel like things are destined to happen, no matter what you do?" Eidem said. "That was Sunday. It was just a pretty ridiculous game."

The loss came less than 48 hours after Gilbertson threw seven innings of five-hit ball in the Fish's 4-3 win over the New Richmond Millers. Gilbertson struck out two and walked one while allowing just one earned run before reliever Rick Wells struck out the side in the final two innings to earn the save.

Gilbertson helped himself at the plate with two hits and two RBI while Eidem and Brian Giebel drove in the other Fish runs. Brom, Giliuson and Scott Warrington also had two hits each in the game.

"We got just enough offense to take a lead, but again, we had 12 hits in the game and only four runs to show for it."

The Fish also dropped a 4-0 decision at Menomonie last Wednesday despite a three-hit performance by Fish starter Seth Bugar.

"Seth really threw the ball well, but Derek Hanistock had us pretty baffled," Eidem said about the Eagles' starter. He's not overpowering, but he's been winning games in the SCVBL for about 10 years now because he's got four pitches he can throw for strikes and he really keeps guys off balance."