Amateur Baseball: Greyhounds win SpamTown Challenge opener

AUSTIN — With a number of rain outs, the Austin Greyhounds have been struggling to get games in this season. The amateur baseball team had perfect weather on Thursday, however, in the opening round of the SpamTown Challenge.

Nels Nelson tossed a five shutout innings as the Greyhounds beat Appleton 8-2 in the second overall game of the tourney at Marcusen Park. In the first game, Westmont, Ill., shutout the Austin Blue Sox 9-0. The tournament, featuring 16 teams and 27 total games, continues through Sunday.

"We've been taking it easy this year, trying to stretch it out," Nelson said.

"We're still working on things," Greyhounds catcher Matt Raso added. "We've only had seven games, but we're getting closer."

Nelson kept Appleton off balance most of the game. He survived a three-hit first inning, getting a nice defensive play in the process. After a pair of infield hits, Jordy Plamann singled to right field. But Austin right fielder Tyler Leopold threw a strike to the plate to cut down a runner trying to score, ending the threat.


"That was a huge play," Nelson said. "Tyler came up and made a perfect throw. That was the perfect start for us."

The Greyhounds then scored three times in the second inning, aided by three walks and a crucial error. Raso's double was the only hit of the inning. John Frein's sacrifice fly opened the scoring and a two-out fielding error allowed two more runs to score.

Matt Cano blooped a single to right-center with one out in the Austin fifth. Craig Braaten then pulled a two-run homer over the wall in left field.

Nelson pitched himself into a jam in the bottom of the fifth. He walked the bases loaded, the final two with two outs. But Cano then snared a deep grounder at third and fired to first to end the inning.

"The fifth inning, with the bases loaded, Matt Cano really made a great play," Nelson said.

That would be Nelson's final hitter of the game. He allowed four hits and walked five in his five innings.

"He had pretty good command at times," Raso said.

"I threw a lot of fastballs but they weren't hitting them," Nelson said.


Frein, the No. 9 hitter, provided the Greyhounds with another insurance run with an RBI single in the sixth. Nate Johnson opened the inning by getting hit by a pitch and moved to second on a wild pitch.

Alex Kasek relived Nelson in the sixth and allowed a two-run homer to Chris Erm.

But the Greyhounds took advantage of another two-out error by Appleton in the top of the seventh to get the two runs back. Following the error, Johnson sliced a two-run double to the gap in left-center field to conclude the scoring.

"Getting the first win is huge because if you go 0-1 it's tough to come back," Nelson said of trying to win the tournament.

The Greyhounds (5-2) face Westmont, Ill., in the second round at 7 p.m. today at Marcusen Park.

Greyhounds 8, Appleton 2




Austin Greyhounds:Matt Cano 1-for-3, 1 R; Craig Braaten 2-for-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI; Dave Adams 2-for-3, 2 R, 1 BB; Matt Raso 1-for-4, 2 R, 1 2B; Nate Johnson 1-for-3, 1 2B, 1 HBP, 1 R, 2 RBI; Tyler Leopold 1 R, 1 BB; John Frein 1-for-1, 1 BB, 2 RBI, 1 SB. WP: Nels Nelson 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 3 K. Other pitcher: Alex Kasak 2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K.

Appleton:Courtney Watkins 1-for-2; John Hendrick 1-for-3; Jordy Plamann 2-for-4, Jesus Cazares 1-for-3, 1 R; Chris Erm 1-for-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI; Alec Kolain 2-for-2, 1 BB. LP: Kevin Kangas 7 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 10 K.

Westmont beats Blue Sox

The Austin Blue Sox dropped their opening game of the tournament 9-0 to Westmont, Ill. It was the Blue Sox's first game in 12 days.

"We've been sitting around and I think that affected our hitting," Blue Sox manager Jamey Pratt said. "Our timing was a little off."

The Blue Sox (4-4) had four games rained out in that span.

Westmont right-hander Kyle Bernaciak tossed a four-hit shutout against the Blue Sox.

The Blue Sox are without their three tops pitchers in the tournament and Friday's starter, Dallas Coleman, was lifted after three innings due to a sprained ankle.


"Dallas hadn't pitch in 13 days and he was a little rusty," Pratt said. Coleman allowed three runs in the first inning and two in the third.

Pratt said the Blue Sox will try to get by with a make-shift pitching staff the rest of the tournament. They face Appleton, Wis., in the second round today at 5 p.m. at Marcusen Park.

"It's not the situation that we wanted, but we'll have to get by," Pratt said of the pitching staff.

• The Rochester Royals play St. Paul at 6:30 p.m. today. On Saturday the Royals play Shakopee at 10:15 a.m. and Cedar Rapids at 8:30 p.m.

• On Saturday night, a Marcusen Park block party is held, and it will start right after the Blue Sox and Greyhounds play, around 7:30, rain or shine.

Westmont 9, Blue Sox 0

Austin Blue Sox#000#000#0#—#0#4#2



Austin Blue Sox:John Kirby 1-for-3; Luke Anderson 1-for-1; Jamie Adams 1-for-3; Brady Klingfus 1-for-2. LP: Dallas Coleman 3 IP, 5 R.

Westmont:Steve Bremer 1-for-4, 1 2B; Brett Synek 2-for-2, 2 2B, 2 R; John Boidonis 2-for-4, 3 R. WP:Kyle Bernaciak 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R.

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