AUSTIN EDITION Hounds ready for state
'We're in it to win it,' pitcher says
By Guy N. Limbeck
One more step. That's what the Austin Greyhounds are looking to take at this year's Class B state amateur baseball tournament.
The Greyhounds reached the state title game a year ago only to fall to Cold Spring, which captured its second straight state crown. Austin returns to the state tournament on Friday when it faces Hutchinson in the first round at 7:30 p.m. in Cold Spring.
"It would be something else to get back into the championship game," Austin's Tate Cummins said.
After placing second a year ago, anything but a solid run at the state title will be a disappointment to the Greyhounds this time.
"We're in it to win it," said pitcher Dave Meyer.
"I think we feel pretty good about it," said player/manager Joe Serratore. "We don't feel there's anyone we can't play with."
The Greyhounds take a 33-17 mark into the 16-team, double-elimination state tournament. Austin has been champing at the bit most of the summer, waiting to play in the state tournament.
"It's nice to have the whole team there," said first baseman Tim Kaplan. "Now you're actually playing for something."
"That's why we come back (to win)," Cummins said. "It's a big deal to get it done."
Kaplan was named to the Class B all-tournament team a year ago along with teammates John Frein (shortstop), Chris Pack (pitcher) and Craig Selk (outfield). Pack, 6-5 on the season, will pitch the state opener against Hutchinson. He threw a one-hitter in his last outing against Rochester in the section playoffs.
"Our pitching depth is phenomenal," pitcher Nick Dolan said. "All that goes along with the defense. If we can put up offensive numbers, we should do fantastic."
With Pack, Dolan and brothers Dave and Scott Meyer, the Greyhounds expect to get good pitching throughout the tournament. Offense might be the key as to how far the team advances.
"We have to manufacture runs for sure," Cummins said. "Two-out base hits are going to be big. That's going to be the key to scoring runs."
Pitching and defense are at more of a premium this year because wood bats are being used in amateur baseball. Serratore said that levels the playing field.
"A lot of teams are capable of winning," he said. "Pitching and defense are primary, and execution offensively."
Serratore said Cold Spring is the team to beat. But he listed Austin, Rochester, Chaska, Red Wing, Hastings and Apple Valley as other teams with a shot at the title. Of those seven teams, only Rochester and Hastings are on the opposite side of Austin's bracket.
"Whoever can put up the numbers (offensively) will do the best," Dolan said.
The tournament is being played in Cold Spring and St. Cloud during the next three weekends. The Greyhounds play just once this weekend. The Austin-Hutchinson winner faces the Red Wing-Waseca winner Aug. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in St. Cloud. The two losers play Aug. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in St. Cloud.