Field of 16 teams in Spamtown Challenge

Wind damage to the field in South St. Paul caused the cancellation of Tuesday night's Austin Greyhounds baseball game, so their next action will be in the Spamtown Challenge Tournament.

Volunteers have been working hard to get Marcusen Park ready for the 16-team tournament, which will also include the Austin Blue Sox. There will also be a number of games played at the Riverland Complex, plus the defending tourney champs Dundas Dukes get a home game.

The first game of the tournament is scheduled to take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Marcusen Park. The Greyhounds will play the Kewaskum (Wis.) A's in the first game of the summer at the old ballpark by the river. Dundas will also host Westmont (Ill.) that night.

"We started out back in 2005 trying to find enough teams to play, now the Spamtown Challenge has grown into one of the elite tournaments in the state," Hounds player/manager John Frein said of the upcoming event.

"It's bigger than most amateur tournaments and the competition is at the highest level, so teams really want to come to Austin. We'll have four pools and each team is guaranteed at least three games over the weekend, so it should be another great tournament."


Last year, the Hounds got to the final day and played the Dukes in the semifinals. An early lead didn't last and the Hounds lost. Dundas went on to beat Rochester in the championship game.

Even though all of the teams play to win on the field, the tournament isn't just about the game of baseball. When the second game for the Hounds is over on Saturday, they'll be grilling up some grub and serving refreshments in the third base foul area.

This is a chance for the different teams to interact socially, hang out by the river, and listen to the music of the "Kid Kroc Band." They put on this "Saturday Night Block Party" last year at the tournament and the folks in attendance had a good time.

"We'll be roasting two hogs and have pork sandwiches along with beer and pop out in the tents after our late game," Frein said. "There will also be another game going on and along with the music it will be a unique atmosphere.

"Games will be played across town and we couldn't put on this tournament without the use of the Riverland Complex, but we still want the focus to be on Marcusen Park. That's why we have the Saturday night party, to let folks enjoy a night at the ballpark. It will be like a circus with all kinds of activity going on down by the river."

Recent renovations at Marcusen Park have been completed just in time for the annual tournament. They've expanded the dugouts and laid new sod on the infield.

The facelift of the ballpark should make it an even better scene for the tournament. Former champions from Sparta, Wis., will be making a return appearance this year at the tourney. It will be the first time for the Appleton, Wis., Legends. For the Hounds, they'll be seeking their first tournament title.

"This tournament is the highlight of our season, and it's the same for a lot of the teams coming to town," Frein said. "We try to make it an exciting event and there will be a lot of great baseball."


Over the previous seven years of the tournament, the Hounds have compiled a 14-10 record. Their best finish was last year with a 3-1 record and trip to the semifinals. The Blue Sox have a 9-9 record in the tournament.


(Schedule of games)


Westmont at Dundas, 7 p.m.

Kewaskum vs. Greyhounds (at Marcusen Park), 7:30 p.m.


(at Marcusen Park)


Kewaskum vs. Illinois Valley, 3 p.m.

Sparta vs. Westmont, 5 p.m.

Greyhounds vs. Forest Lake, 7 p.m.

Appleton vs. Cold Spring, 9 p.m.

(at Riverland Complex)

Chaska vs. Burnsville, 6 p.m.

Rochester vs. Moorhead, 7 p.m.

Dundas vs. Minnetonka, 8 p.m.


Austin Blue Sox vs. St. Paul, 9 p.m.


(at Marcusen Park)

Blue Sox vs. Chaska, 9 a.m.

Burnsville vs. Blue Sox, 11 a.m.

St. Paul vs. Burnsville, 1 p.m.

Greyhounds vs. Appleton, 4 p.m.

Greyhounds vs. Cold Spring, 6 p.m.


Illinois Valley vs. Moorhead, 8 p.m.

(at Riverland Complex)

Dundas vs. Sparta, 9 a.m.

Forest Lake vs. Appleton, 10 a.m.

Minnetonka vs. Westmont, 11 a.m.

Cold Spring vs. Forest Lake, noon

Sparta vs. Minnetonka, 1 p.m.

Moorhead vs. Kewaskum, 3 p.m.


Rochester vs. Illinois Valley, 4 p.m.

Chaska vs. St. Paul 5 p.m.

Rochester vs. Kewaskum, 6 p.m.


Semfinals at Marcusen Park, 9 a.m.

Semfinals at Riverland Complex, 9 a.m.

Championship at Marcusen Park, noon

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