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Packers finish baseball regular season with loss

Post-Bulletin staff

MANKATO — The Austin High baseball team closed out the regular season on Tuesday with a 17-7 loss to Mankato East.

Starting out in customary fashion, the visiting Austin Packers fell behind 3-0 in the first inning.

The Packers did make some runs at the East Cougars, but they still trailed the whole way in the Big Nine Conference game.

A pair of runs by the Packers in the top of the second cut their deficit to 3-2. The Cougars then came back with four runs in the bottom of the frame to extend the lead.

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"It’s been a pattern with this group of getting behind early," Austin coach Troy Watkins said. "It’s been tough, because you look at the first couple of innings all season and we’ve been down. It’s been frustrating with the way we’ve started games. We don’t get going right away, and it takes away a lot of options for the hitters."

Despite the early deficit, the Packers once again demonstrated another recurring trait, and that’s to mount a comeback. A big rally in the top of the fourth brought Austin back to within a run.

The four-run rally by the Packers in the fourth inning started with walks to Dylan Monson, Andrew Orcutt, and Steven Rizzi.

This loaded the bases for Nate Wagner and he then delivered the clutch hit. Wagner laced a double to clear the bases. He later scored when Mark Harber stroked a RBI single.

The Packers were now back in the game and it would stay close for the next couple of innings. But that was it for the Austin offense as all of the late runs would come from East.

"We got it back to 8-7 after we fell behind early, and the guys made a nice comeback," Watkins said. "After we scored those runs to climb back in it, they took charge in the fifth and sixth innings. They deserved to win with the way they hit the ball. We only had four hits and it’s tough to win in our conference with such low hit totals."

Austin finished the regular season with a 7-12 overall record, and 6-12 in the Big Nine. The Packers next play in the Class AAA, Section One tournament on Saturday at the higher seed.

MANKATO EAST 17, AUSTIN 7

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Austin 021 400 — 7 4 2

Faribault 341 144 — 17 17 1

Austin: John Kirby 2-2, 2B, run; Nate Wagner 1-3, 2B, run, 4 RBI; Mark Harber 1-2, run, RBI. LP: Adam Hemann 1 1/3 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 0 K. RP: Jake Schmit 1 2/3 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 1 K; Dylan Monson 2 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 0 K; Brady Klingfus 2/3 IP, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 0 K.

Mankato East: Derek Werkmeister 4-4, 3 runs, 2 RBI. WP: Ryan Totman 4 IP, 7 R, 4 H, 4 BB, 7 K.

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