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AUSTIN EDITION Junior All-Stars reach Jaycees finals

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Austin loses to La Crosse-Shelby in championship

By Scott Kolb

skolb@postbulletin.com

Gene "Lefty" Kelly has been coaching the Austin Junior All-Stars 12-year-old baseball team for more than two decades, and this will be his last season in the dugout, so the kids did something special for him.

For the first time in the 27-year history of the Jaycees Youth International Baseball Tournament, the host team made it into the finals. The tourney was held over the Fourth of July weekend at the North Todd Park complex in Austin.

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The Austin Jaycees All-stars worked their way into the championship game by beating Blue Earth and Canada's Current River in pool play. Austin then advanced into the finals of pool play and defeated Mankato.

In the semifinals, the Austin All-stars, behind the strong pitching of Jeremy Wagner, upset Mason City (Iowa) 1-0. For years, Lefty and his coaching partner Gabby Weiss have been teaching the kids how to win close games, and that advice paid off in the tournament.

"That was a classic game," said Weiss. "Wagner held Mason City to only two hits, struck out three and walked just one batter."

The only run of the game was scored when Austin lead-off hitter Quinn Yocom laid done a perfect bunt. Yocom went to second on a sacrifice by Steven Serratore, moved to third on a passed ball, and then scored when Tayler Sederquest hit into a fielder's choice down the third-base line.

In the championship game, the Austin All-stars lost to La Crosse-Shelby from Wisconsin. No team went unbeaten in the tourney. Austin's only loss was in the title game.

This weekend the Austin All-stars (17-6) play in the New Richland Tournament. That will be followed by the Forest City (Iowa) Tourney. At the end of the month, Lefty will head with the gang on one more trip north of the border for the 25th Can-Am Tourney in Thunder Bay, Ont.

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