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New Richmond Millers slide back to SCVL pack

Veteran second baseman Jon Will is hitting above .400 to lead the Millers' offense this season.

The lead the New Richmond Millers built up in the St. Croix Valley League was washed away with a pair of league losses last week.

The Millers lost at Ellsworth last Wednesday 5-3 and at Hager City on Saturday, 6-0. The two other games scheduled last week, Friday against Blaine and Sunday against St. Croix Falls, were casualties of the heavy rains that bombarded the area over the weekend. The Millers got three innings into the game against Blaine at Citizens Field on Friday before the rain sent everyone running for cover.

While the offense was far from stellar in the two losses, New Richmond manager Ryan Stephens said the main culprit in the two SCVL setbacks last week was poor outfield defense. Stephens promised changes in the outfield personnel for the upcoming games. In both of the losses, balls hit to the outfield that should have been caught or cut off for singles were allowed to roll to the fence for extra-base hits.

In Wednesday's game at Ellsworth, the Millers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Hits by Jon Will, Nick Scritchfield, Grant Nelson and Dan Leavens were the key cogs in the rally.

Ellsworth gradually chipped away at the lead. The Hubbers scored once against Hayden Zimmerman in the first inning, then tied the score in the fourth inning. The Hubbers took the lead on a solo homer in the fifth inning, then added a run in the seventh inning. Zimmerman allowed eight hits in the complete game effort.

There was definite frustration showing from the Millers in their loss at Hager City. They were held to three hits by James Georgekas, who was the ace of the Ellsworth High School team the past two seasons. The Millers clearly thought they should have been able to make better contact against Georgekas' mix of pitches.

Josh Leavens started on the mound for the Millers on Saturday. He gave up five runs in the second inning, but the outfield defensive issues were part of the problem, according to Stephens.

The lead the Millers have in their division has been trimmed back with the two losses. The Millers lead the division at 5-3, but the competition is right on their heels with Osceola at 3-2 and Menomonie at 4-3.

The Millers now have a week off between games and the break comes at an opportune time. Their next game will be this Sunday, when they play at Bay City at 1 p.m. The next home game for the Millers will be next Tuesday, when they face the New Richmond senior American Legion team at 7:30 p.m.

Plans are underway for the 2013 St. Croix Valley League All-Star Game, which the Millers will host on Friday, July 5 at 7:30 p.m. Players from 12 of the SCVL are scheduled to play in the game. This will be the first time the Millers have hosted the All-Star Game since 2006.

The honorary coach for the North squad has been announced. It is Dennis "Tillie" Krenz, the owner of Osceola Lanes. Krenz is a long-time supporter of the Osceola Braves team.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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