Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Missed opportunities cost Greyhounds at state

Saturday, Aug. 23
LeSueur, MINN.
By Jeff Barthel
It was a rainy morning at Bruce Frank Field in LeSeueur. Nine innings later, the Austin Greyhounds were cloudy with a chance of missed opportunities. 

“There were a lot of runners on base [today] and it’s my job to get them in” Greyhounds manager Matt Cano said, “and I didn’t do my job today.”

Cano, Austin’s No. 3 hitter, particularly regretted a key opportunity in the seventh inning, where he swung and missed on a high fastball from Burnsville pitcher Casey Jacobson. 
Greyhounds 3B John Frien, bunting

Jacobson ended up going the distance for the Bobcats, leading his team to a 4-1 win over Austin, eliminating the Greyhounds from the Class B amateur baseball state tournament today.

“Cano’s been automatic for us, I was at second [base] amped up and ready to score,” third baseman John Frien said, “I was just hoping I didn’t do anything stupid or get picked off … anywhere he puts it in play and I’m going to score.” 

Clutch for Austin all season long and all it took was one poor swing to kill a potential key rally in a costly situation. 

“Leaving the bases loaded with one out …” Cano said, “momentum in baseball can mean everything at times, and this was definitely one of [those times].”

Cano was not only speaking for himself. Prior to Cano’s at-bat, Austin second baseman Joe Kroc left the sacks packed with an infield fly.

Until the late innings, this game was a pure pitchers’ duel. Jacobson and Austin starter Joe Huffman held opposing bats at bay through four.

Greyhounds Jamey Pratt scores Austin's run

The scoring opened in the fifth when Burnsville’s Matt Trocke smacked a single up the middle to score teammate Bryce Pruszinske. Austin went scoreless through its half of the fifth but would notch its first run in the sixth.

Cano started a rally with a single. Jamey Pratt pinch-ran for Cano and advanced to second on a ground ball. Two batters later, with two outs, centerfielder Andy Swank came through with an RBI single to tie the game 1-1.

In the eighth inning, reliever Nels Nelson found himself in trouble. But it was not all of his own doing.

With two runners on and one out, Burnsville’s Robby Wiens lofted a soft pop fly to right that Greyhounds outfielder Josh Evans could not quite come up with. Not ruled an error because it didn’t hit Evans glove, it was a tough luck single for Nelson to take.  

Now facing the bases loaded with one out, Nelson faced Bobcats catcher Zach Harazin. Harazin promptly greeted Nelson with a hard line drive to center. Greyhounds centerfielder Swank raced to his left to make a fine running catch. But the hit was strong enough to score Trocke (who singled to start the inning) and give Burnsville a 2-1 lead.
Greyhounds RP Nels Nelson

Nelson was able to stymie further damage by retiring Burnsville’s Bryce Pruszinske on a pop-up to first base. Rather than dejected by the deficit, the Greyhounds were visibly pumped as they escaped trouble and hustled into the dugout with beaming shouts of optimism.

Nelson described retiring Pruszinkske and keeping the team’s faith.

“It was a fastball outside, and I was able to hit my spot and get him to pop up,” Nelson said. “We came in [to the dugout] ready to swing the bats, feeling we had a great chance to tie it up again.”

It was not to be, however.

After two quick outs Nelson tried to pick up his team’s offense, lacing a double to left. But a groundout to short ended Austin’s chances in the eighth.

Burnsville then answered in the ninth, scoring two runs on three hits and an error. It was all she wrote from there, as the Bobcats wiped up the Greyhounds with a final score of 4-1.

Statistical highlights:
Burnsville: Jacobsen (CG, ER, 7 H, 7 K, 3 BB); Trocke (3-for-5, R, RBI)
Greyhounds: Swank (2-for-3, BB, RBI); Joe Huffman (5 IP, ER, 4 H, 8 K, BB)
Greyhounds SS Henry Fleek
Burnsville SP Casey Jacobson
Greyhounds SP Joe Huffman

Photos: All Greyhounds photos were courtesy of Mary Nelson; the photo of Burnsville SP Casey Jacobson is a file photo ... Thanks for the great photos, Mary!

Note: I wrote this story as coverage of the Austin Greyhounds for the Rochester Post-Bulletin.

No comments: