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Millers will get a double dose of Osceola Braves this week

This Wednesday and Friday, the New Richmond Millers will get a double dose of the Osceola Braves.

The Millers will play at Osceola at 7:30 p.m. this Wednesday. The two teams will clash again this Friday, at New Richmond's Citizens Field, at 7:30 p.m. in the annual Fun Fest game between these two teams.

Winning both games against Osceola is critical to the Millers' chances of reaching the state baseball playoffs. The Millers stand at 5-6 in the St. Croix Valley League after a 3-1 loss to River Falls last Wednesday. To get into the state playoffs, a team must have a record above the .500 level.

To complicate matters, the Millers will be without veteran starting pitcher Tim Brown for the week. This means Logan Peterson, Cody Torkelson, T.J. Wink and several other options may come into play in the three Millers games this week. They also have a non-league game scheduled for Sunday in Hager City.

Last Wednesday's loss to River Falls was a big setback for the Millers. The Millers continue to struggle at the plate. They were held to five hits by former Millers pitcher Dan Morgan.

Two of those hits came in the first inning, when the Millers scored their only run. Scott Emerson and Caleb Van Roekel started the inning with singles. Emerson eventually scored on a groundout by Curt Kleinschmidt.

Over the next six innings, the Millers didn't come up with a hint of a threat. In the meantime, River Falls took the lead with runs in the sixth, eighth and ninth innings.

The Millers were able to put together threats in the eighth and ninth innings, but each time they stranded two runners on base. The Millers struck out eight times against Morgan while drawing three walks in the game.

Millers player-coach Ryan Stephens said there has been a pattern to the team's offensive struggles recently.

"We always come on late because the pitchers are finally slowing down," said Stephens, saying the players aren't able to catch up with the fastball for most of the game.