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Mudhens ride 14-game win streak to top seed in section 1B playoffs

Jim "Juice" Johnson pauses as the crowd laughs during his speech. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
Mudhens' starting pitcher Steve Maher hurls a pitch during Miesville's 12-0 win over the Hastings Hawks. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
Diane Schiller speaks to the crowd at Jack Ruhr Field after being inducted into the Mudhens Hall of Fame. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

The Miesville Mudhens extended their winning streak to 14 games this past week with wins over the Hastings Hawks (12-0) on July 21, and the Austin BlueSox (4-0) on July 23. The Mudhens are now 24-3 (14-2 Classic Cannon Valley), haven't lost in over a month and have clinched the top seed in the section 1B playoffs.

Hall of Fame induction

Miesville inducted two longtime supporters into the Mudhens Hall of Fame prior to their game at home against the Hastings Hawks. Jim "Juice" Johnson and Diane Schiller were honored right before the first pitch and join 32 others in the Hall of Fame.

According to the write-up by the Mudhens, Johnson has been involved with the Mudhens since 1972. Those 45 years include 16 as a player, eight as manager and has been a part of the board for 40. Johnson also played a critical role in the "construction and maintenance of Jack Ruhr Field and the high regard it is held today — considered of one of the best town ballparks in the state of Minnesota."

Diane Schiller has been a part of the Mudhens for 14 years and according to the Mudhen's Facebook post, "has been heavily involved in many projects especially the annual bowling and banquet fundraisers. She single handily would produce the majority of donations and sponsors for these events. Without Diane's contributions, it's safe to say these events and the Mudhens organization would have suffered to get by."

Both Johnson and Schiller received plaques and spoke in front of a very large crowd at Jack Ruhr Field.

A sweep of the Hawks

The Mudhens swept the Hastings Hawks with another 10-plus run victory. After beating the Hawks 12-1 in Hastings on July 16, Miesville followed up with a near duplicate game where they won 12-0. The Mudhens scored in five out of six innings and Steve Maher was dominant the entire game.

They scored one run in the bottom of the first off of a sacrifice fly by Brian Sprout that scored Joey Werner. In the second inning, Sebastian Holte-Mancera scored on a wild pitch, Reed Collins scored on an RBI single by Spencer Merle and then Merle scored on a single by Matt Van Der Bosch.

Miesville broke the game open in the fourth by scoring four runs and making the 10-run rule a possibility. Van Der Bosch cracked a three-RBI double that scored Collins, Merle and Werner. Van Der Bosch then scored on an RBI groundout by Deryk Marks.

Leading 8-0, the Mudhens secured the 10-run rule by scoring three more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Collins and Werner each contributed RBI singles while Holte-Mancera added an RBI triple. They added an insurance run in the sixth on another RBI single by Merle and won 12-0.

Maher threw six shutout innings, allowed just four hits, walked two and struck out 11 batters to get the win. Lonnie Robinson came in to pitch the seventh inning and struck out two Hawks batters.

Werner and Merle each had three hits to lead Miesville. Van Der Bosch led with four RBI while Merle had two. Collins scored three times and Werner, Holte-Mancera and Merle each scored twice.

The Mudhens tentatively play July 26, though at the time writing of this article their opponent remained unknown. They then travel to Austin to face the Greyhounds on Saturday, July 29, and then host Chaseburg Coon Valley Blues on Sunday, July 30.

Miesville, as the top seed, will play the winner of a play-in game between the eight and nine seeds, which right now are the Austin BlueSox and Hastings Hawks respectively. The first game the Mudhens would play is Friday, August 4, in Miesville.

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a sports reporter and general assignment reporter at the Hastings Star Gazette. He is a journalism graduate of Drake University.

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