Hounds fall short of final day
A loss in the second game Saturday night left the Austin Greyhounds out of the final rounds in the Spamtown Challenge Tournament.
After an extra inning loss Friday night to open pool play, the Greyhounds came back with a 5-0 win over the Appleton (Wis.) Legends on Saturday afternoon. The late game was closely contested the whole way against the Cold Spring Springers, but the Hounds came up short in a 3-2 loss.
This left St. Paul, Minnetonka, Cold Spring, and Moorhead in the final day. In the end, the Minnetonka Millers won their second tournament title in three years with a 6-2 victory over the St. Paul Capitols.
Nels Nelson gave the Greyhounds a chance to get into the finals with seven innings of solid pitching in the win over Appleton. Nelson scattered four hits and struck out four batters in his complete game shutout.
"I had an extra week off between starts and my arm felt good," Nelson said. "It was nice to get the shutout. The guys played solid all around in the field."
The Hounds didn't commit any errors in this game and Nelson got some help from the Legends in keeping the shutout intact. With a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning, Nelson got off to a rough start by walking the leadoff hitter and then, giving up a single to the next batter.
The Legends got a groundout to put runners at second and third with only out. Nelson needed a big break to wriggle out of the jam and he got it. On a ball hit back to the pitcher, the lead runner got too far off base and Nelson threw him out. The next guy grounded out and the threat was over.
"They had some chances to score off me in the early innings, but we got fortunate on that base running blunder," Nelson said. "My offense added some runs to the lead and I was able to close it out."
Although the Legends got a runner on base in each of the last five innings, they never got him past first. The Hounds hurler was spotted to a nice lead and went the distance on the hill.
Andy Swank scored the initial run for the Hounds in the bottom of the first and he was also part of a three-run rally in the second inning. The fun for the home team started with back-to-back walks to Logan Spitzack and Bryan Toov. A groundout from Joe Kroc scored Spitzack for a 2-0 lead.
John Frein next hit a grounder that was misplayed and Toov scored. Swank reached on a fielder's choice and later scored the third run of the rally on a double from Tyler Leopold. Spitzack scored the final run in the bottom of the sixth off an RBI single from Swank.
• In the late game, it was a pitching duel between Joe Huffman of the Greyhounds and Zach Femrite of the Springers. Both teams went scoreless for the first two innings.
Huffman didn't give up any big hits in the bottom of the third, but the Springers took advantage of two singles and an error to score a pair of runs. The Hounds came right back in the top of the fourth and scored a couple of unearned runs off Femrite.
With one out, Matt Raso drew a walk and Jay Ettinger came on as a courtesy runner for the Hounds catcher. Tyler Leopold followed with a single to put two men aboard. A wild pitch then moved the runners to second and third base.
Spitzack next hit a grounder back to Femrite and initially, it appeared he had Ettinger caught about halfway down the third base line. Instead, the Cold Spring pitcher decided to take the sure out, but his toss got lost in the sun by the first baseman and Ettinger scored. Leopold would then tie the game on a sacrifice fly from Bryan Toov.
The deadlock didn't last very long as the Springers scored the decisive run in the bottom of the fourth. With two outs, Huffman issued a walk. The runner then stole second base and scored on a single from Femrite.
"I thought I had the strikeout on the 3-2 pitch, but that's baseball," Huffman said. "It seems like walks and errors always come back to bite you. Still, it was a competitive game and I had pretty good control of all four of my pitches. Me and Raso were on the same page which led to the six strikeouts."
Nate Johnson reached base on a two-out error in the top of the fifth, but was thrown out trying to steal second. The Hounds got a leadoff walk in the sixth inning, but a double play erased that potential threat. Femrite then set the side down in order for the seventh and that was the ballgame.
Austin Greyhounds (9-10) go on the road Wednesday night for a game against the Northfield Knights.
(Saturday pool play)
GREYHOUNDS 5, APPLETON 0
Austin Greyhounds:Andy Swank 2-for-4, SB, 2 R, RBI; Tyler Leopold 1-for-2, 2 BB, SB; Nate Johnson 1-for-4; Matt Cano 1-for-3; Logan Spitzack 1-for-2, BB, 2 R; Bryan Toov 0-for-1, 2 BB, SB, 1 R; Joe Kroc 0-for-2, BB, RBI. WP:Nels Nelson 7 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 3 BB, 4 K.
COLD SPRING 3, GREYHOUNDS 2
Cold Spring .....#002#100#x#—#3#6#2
Austin Greyhounds:Steve Serratore 1-for-3; Matt Cano 1-for-2, BB; Matt Raso 0-for-2, BB; Jay Ettinger 1 R; Tyler Leopold 1-for-3, 1 R; Logan Spitzack 0-for-2, BB, SB; Bryan Toov 0-for-1, RBI. LP:Joe Huffman 6 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 3 K.
Cold Spring Springers:WP: Zach Femrite 7 IP, 2 R, 0 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 6 K.