Austin baseball still winless in Big Nine

By Scott A. Kolb

The Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

Squandered scoring opportunities left the Austin Packers a few runs short in Tuesday's loss to Mankato East at Seltz Field.

The Packers scored first in this Big Nine Conference game, but they couldn't hold the early lead. The East Cougars took control with four runs in the top of the second inning and went on to a 6-4 win.

Robert Wahlert started on the mound for the Packers and took the loss. Wahlert was wild during his brief mound tenure with six walks.


Preston Higbe came on in relief of Wahlert in the second inning and finished the game. Higbe did a solid job in relief with only one earned run allowed and a strikeout. Still, it wasn't enough for the Packers to get their first conference win of the season.

"Robert is not throwing with a lot of confidence and he's trying to aim the ball," Austin coach Troy Watkins said. "Walks fueled their four-run inning and we couldn't catch them. Preston came in and did a good job in relief. Some of our pitchers could learn from him by throwing the ball over the plate and lettting the defense get the outs in the field."

Jay Ettinger paced the Austin offense with three hits on the day. He doubled to lead off the bottom of the first and scored the initial run on a single by Higbe.

After the Cougars took a 4-1 lead in the second inning, the Packers tried to chip away but they had trouble at the plate. Quinn Yocom singled with one out in the bottom of the second, but was erased on a double play.

In the bottom of the third inning, the Packers did score a run. Nate Paris started the rally when he was hit by a pitch, Ettinger then singled, and after an out, Joey Swatfager reached base on an error.

Brady Klingfus next singled home Paris, but he would be part of an inning-ending double play. Mike Tindal followed with a ground ball that resulted in an out at second base but appeared to plate another run. Instead, after Klingfus made a rolling slide at second it was ruled that he interfered with the defense and the double play was called.

"That was a tough call to go against us, because you never know what might happen with runners still at the corners," Watkins said. "We're just making too many little mistakes and not executing with runners on base."

The Packers left the bases loaded in the fourth inning. Yocom then tripled but was left stranded on base in the bottom of the fifth. More base running problems prevented a bigger rally in the sixth.


Yocom doubled and Paris was hit by a pitch to spark a rally in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Ettinger laced a shot to the gap and raced around the bases. Yocom scored easily and then the fun started.

Ettinger continued all the way around for a triple. Paris had initially stopped between third and home, but scored when the throw from the outfield went awry. However, a line drive fly ball from Jacob Hines was misread by Ettinger and he didn't tag. The rally ended with a groundout.

Austin (1-6, 0-5 Big Nine) plays host to Albert Lea on Thursday.


Mankato East 6, Austin 4

Mankato....... 040 001 1 — 6 10 1

Austin ..... 101 002 0 — 4 9 2

Mankato East:Griffan Kozitza 2-for-4, walk, RBI; Seth Allan 1-for-3, walk, HR, run, 2 RBI; Derek Quame 2-for-3, walk, 2B, RBI; Taylor Ries 3-for-4, run, 2 RBI. WP: Kozitza 5 1/3 IP, 4 R, 4 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 3 HB, 2 K. SV: Dan Lindstrom 1 2/3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 0 K.


Austin:Jay Ettinger 3-for-4, 2B, 3B, run, 2 RBI; Preston Higbe 1-for-4, RBI; Brady Klingfus 1-for-4, RBI; Mike Tindal 1-for-4, 3B; Jacob Hines 1-for-3, HBP; Quinn Yocom 2-for-2, 2 walks, 2B, run; Nate Paris 0-for-0, 2 HBP, walk, 2 runs. LP: Robert Wahlert 1 2/3 IP, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 H, 6 BB, 0 K. RP: Higbe 4 1/3 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, K.

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