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Triple treat

It's always a relief when a baseball team gets out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam.

It's even sweeter when it's accomplished with a triple play.

That's what the River Falls Fighting Fish pulled off in the fourth inning of their St. Croix Valley Baseball League game at Elmwood Sunday to keep their one-run lead intact.

Leading 3-2 with the bases loaded, nobody out and Elmwood's best hitter, Adam Churchill, at the plate, Fish pitcher Luke Meier jammed Churchill in on the hands and Churchill hit a looping line drive that looked like it would fall behind Fish second baseman Adam Stuessel.

Stuessel made a great running catch in short right field for one out, then turned and flipped the ball to shortstop Brian Giebel to double off the Elmwood runner at second for out number two. Giebel then fired to first baseman Ryan Gilbertson in time to catch another Expo off base and complete the first triple play in team history.

The Fish tacked on two more runs in the fifth before the rain came and the game went in the books as a 5-2 River Falls victory.

The win kept the Fish tied with Osceola for first place in the North Division of the SCVBL at 3-0. The Fish also defeated the Minneapolis River Rats, 12-1, in a non-league game Saturday in River Falls to improve to 9-4 overall.

The Fish took a 3-0 first inning lead Sunday at Elmwood on a two-run single by Gilbertson and an RBI base hit by Giebel. The Expos scored single runs in the second and third innings to cut the lead to 3-2 before the Fish regained the momentum with their triple play in the fourth. Clint Kempf drove in the final two Fish runs with a single in the fifth.

Meier struck out six and walked two while allowing nine hits and two earned runs to pick up the win.

Saturday on Magnet Schedule Day in River Falls, player-manager Josh Eidem was 3-for-4 with five RBI and Kempf and Tyler Hunter each had a pair of hits in a 12-1 win over Minneapolis that was also shortened to five innings by rain.

Fish pitcher Rick Wells allowed just one hit while striking out seven to earn the win.

The Fish will play two more non-league games this Saturday, at the Blufton Braves at 1 p.m. and at New York Mills at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 16, they return to SCVBL action for a 7:30 p.m. game at Ellsworth.

Saturday, June 19, River Falls will host a Free Youth Clinic and Hamster Race Day beginning at 10 a.m. at the high school field, followed by a SCVBL game against the Bay City Bombers at 1 p.m. The team will also be giving away about 50 magnet schedules it has left from last Saturday's rain-shortened game.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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