By Jason Strangis
Slugger Jim French led the Prescott Pirates to a pair of big home wins last weekend. On Saturday, French’s double in the sixth inning scored two runs and propelled Prescott to a 5-1 win over Ellsworth. Then on Sunday, French provided late-game heroics with a three-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth to give the Pirates a dramatic 6-4 victory at Firehall Field.
It was a great weekend for the Pirates, who climbed to 9-0 in St. Croix Valley League play and kept ahead of their division rivals. First up, Prescott avenged an early-season loss to Ellsworth in the Plum City tournament. The Hubbers dominated in Plum City with a 6-2 victory over Prescott in the championship game.
But for the rematch at Firehall Field, Pirates pitcher Eric Monson delivered a strong performance on the mound in Prescott’s 5-1 triumph. Monson, a hard-throwing lefthander, allowed just four hits the entire afternoon. He was backed up by solid defensive play from Prescott fielders.
Prescott took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but Ellsworth tied the game on a solo home run by Jake Betthauser in the top of the fourth. The Pirates scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to break things open, led by French’s clutch double. Prescott added an insurance score in the eighth inning and held on from there.
Ellsworth (9-4 overall; 5-3 SCVL) had a chance to close the gap with Prescott in league play but the Pirates proved to be too strong that day. One of Prescott’s leading hitters, Nick Johnson, said there is good rivalry between the Pirates and Hubbers. “We are pretty evenly-matched teams,” said Johnson, who had three hits including a double against Ellsworth. Alex Ross added two hits with a double.
If the Pirates seemed pumped up and primed to beat longtime rival Ellsworth on Saturday, there was a much different vibe for Sunday’s game vs. the Elmwood Expos.
After failing to cash in on a good opportunity in the first inning, the Pirates fell behind Elmwood 4-0. Expos pitcher Cody Holden baffled Prescott batters for much of the afternoon and the Pirates were repeatedly frustrated at the plate.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Prescott finally got things going by scoring three times and closing the gap to just a run.
The score remained 4-3 in Elmwood’s favor until the bottom of the ninth. Jared Powell delivered a key one-out bloop single for Prescott, putting runners on first and second base with one out. French came up to the plate and knocked a pitch over the fence to help save the day for Prescott, giving the home team a feeling of relief as they stayed undefeated at Firehall Field this season.
While Prescott (12-2 overall) was playing with a different lineup compared to the previous day against Ellsworth, Pirates manager Brady Randolph credited Elmwood pitcher Cody Holden for a fine performance. Holden allowed just five hits the entire afternoon. “He kept us off balance,” Randolph said.
Jesse Tollefson started on the mound for Prescott and allowed eight hits over seven innings.