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Chatter around the baseball park is a nice part of summer

It’s a sure sign of summer when the amateur baseball teams are once again playing at Marcusen Park in Austin.

Little kids and dogs were chasing around the fenced-in foul area last Friday night while the Austin Athletics and Rochester Blues played a Class C game on the field. That’s the beauty of outdoor sports in the late spring, it’s fun for fans of all ages.

There were other hints that the casual pace of summertime baseball is now in vogue. Troy "Bomber" Holtz of the Athletics lived up to his nickname by getting a hit in the fourth inning. We then shared a few laughs while the Bomber grabbed a hot dog to celebrate the hit.

That’s what I like most about covering baseball this time of the year, there’s a chance to catch up on the gossip from the players as they hang around the dugout. The amateur players are a good-natured group and they seem to enjoy sharing idle chit-chat with the media.

Eyes on the sky

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While they were playing at a somewhat leisurely pace at Marcusen Park late last week, there was a decidedly different tone in the Section 1A high school playoffs in Rochester. The Southland Rebels are the only local high school team still alive in the spring season, and their games have been played in recent days in-between lightning strikes.

Last Saturday at Mayo Field, the Rebels had to complete their first round section game against the Chatfield Gophers in the rain. The Rebels lost and then had their late game washed out.

The complete helplessness of Man vs. Mother Nature was evident in the ill-fated attempt to play the late games last Saturday. Longtime Chatfield coach Molly Baum was in charge of seeing whether the games would continue and helped with a squeegee as they attempted to dry off the field after a downpour.

No sooner had the diamond dust been laid and the players retaken the field, when it started to rain for real and everybody raced for shelter. Baum quickly announced that the games were postponed.

Dodging the rain

The volatile nature of the weather this time of year and the foibles that stopped the games last weekend were on my mind when the clouds darkened over Mayo Field on Monday. They got the early game in between Southland and Blooming Prairie with no delays and just light rain.

Still, there was a sense of foreboding when Baum walked by me and confidently stated, "Looks like the rain will hold off and we’ll keep playing ball," Baum said with a smile.

As Wabasha-Kellogg and Chatfield took the field for the winner’s game, lightning flashed off in the distance. The umpires and coaches stood around near home plate for about 10 minutes watching the show in the distant sky, then they decided to play.

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The games were completed on Monday night, but it’s a strange time of year and you’ve never know what will be seen on the baseball field.

Triple the fun

Even the Little League ballplayers are getting in on the excitement and unpredictable nature of summer baseball. The Austin Eagles 14-year-old All Stars had a triple play against Eden Prairie this past weekend.

"It was a great play by our guys in the field," Eagles coach Jeff Yocom said of the triple play. "Quinn Yocom grabbed a line shot, threw the ball to Luke Mallory at second, who then relayed the ball to first baseman Andrew Kaiser."

Led by their standout defense, the Austin Eagles team went on to win the game 3-1 with Alex Earl getting the mound win. The Eagles are now 4-3 on the season.

Summer baseball teams are just getting their seasons started and there promises to be plenty of good times on the diamond over the next few months.

Scott Kolb is a sports reporter for the Post-Bulletin. He can be contacted at skolb@postbulletin.com

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