Late rallies lift Post 91 to win
Pounding out double-digit run and hit totals has been a rare occurrence this summer for the Austin American Legion Post 91 baseball team.
After a slow start Tuesday night, the Austin boys got things rolling and came back to beat Stewartville by a 10-3 margin at Seltz Field.
Stewartville scored an unearned run in the top of the first inning, then Austin answered in he bottom of the frame. The same scenario took place in the third, then Austin scored in the fourth and Stewartville tied it again in the top of the fifth inning.
Finally, a a four-run rally in the bottom of the fifth put the game away for Post 91. The home team added three more runs in the sixth and emphatically snapped a six-game losing streak.
"Our hitting has been sporadic all season, but we shored up the defense and pitching which allowed us to keep the game close until the offense finally scored some runs," Post 91 coach Bob Stratton said. "It's amazing how the sun seems to shine a lot brighter when you get a win."
Final mound start
Post 91 pitcher Jordan Lysne made the final start of his Legion career and went into the third inning. It was a hot and humid night at the ballpark, but Lysne gave his team some steady innings on the hill and Nik Gasner finished the game in relief.
Lysne only gave up one earned run during his mound tenure and didn't figure in the final decision. The Post 91 starter was down a run when he left the hill, but the late rallies made Gasner the winner.
"I just wanted to go a couple of strong innings in my last Legion start and give the team a chance to win," Lysne said. "I was happy with the two-plus innings, but then the heat started to get to me. It's been rough on the pitchers with the lack of run support, so it was nice to watch the guys get me off the hook and make a comeback."
The bases were loaded with one out and a run had already scored for Stewartville in the top of the third, when Stratton made the pitching change. Gasner came in and induced an inning-ending double play. This turned the tide of momentum in favor of the home team.
Help the cause
Not only did Gasner get the mound win in relief, but he also helped the cause offensively by scoring a pair of runs on the night. Gasner reached base on a fielder's choice with two outs in the bottom of the third and went on to score the tying run.
A wild pitch moved Gasner to second, then a walk to Zach Huntley and a single from Steve Clennon loaded the bases. Another wild pitch allowed Gasner to make it a 2-2 tie.
Luke Mallory singled with one out in the fourth for Austin and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Gabe Kasak. This gave Austin its first lead, but Stewartville answered with a run in the top of the fifth. Post 91 came right back with a big rally in the bottom of that frame.
Gasner started the rally when he was hit by a pitch. A single by Huntley moved Gasner to second and he scored on a single by Clennon, which put Post 91 on top to stay.
"I'm used to being a starter, but I try to make the most of my time on the mound and coming into the game with the bases loaded was a challenge," Gasner said. "Getting that double play gave me a lot of confidence and our good defense held them to only one more run. We finally got the offense going and that really helped me feel comfortable on the mound."
Austin's young hitters came through in the clutch to provide the late runs for the win. Clennon plated the first run of the decisive rally, then Isaac Schumacher singled and Jacob Kempen walked to load the bases.
With the key hits from the young guys at the bottom of the batting order, the scoreboard lit up for Post 91. Clennon had two hits on the night, so did Schumacher, and Kempen was on base two times.
"It felt great to get the offense rolling and score a lot of runs," Clennon said. "I'm catching up at the plate with a few more at-bats this summer and getting my timing down on the pitches. That allowed me to be more comfortable in the box and get a couple of hits."
Errors on the Stewartville defense paved the way for the Austin boys to take a 7-3 lead after the fifth inning. Another error in the bottom of the sixth on a ground ball by Joey Raso opened the door to the final three runs for Post 91.
Huntley had a hit and scored in the final rally. Schumacher added a double and scored the last run of the game. Gasner pitched a scoreless seventh and the long losing skid was over.
Austin Legion (6-18 overall) wraps up the regular season on Friday afternoon at home against Albert Lea. This is the final First District league game and is a make-up date from this past Monday.
AUSTIN 10, STEWARTVILLE 3
Stewartville:Tyler Schmitz 1-for-3, SB, R; Shane Mlenar 2-for-4, R; Aaron Simmons 1-for-2, 2 BB, 2B, 2 RBI; Rob Campbell 1-for-3; Luke Lonien 2-for-3; Ryan Larson 2-for-3, R. LP:Tyler Schmitz 2/3 IP, 4 R, 1 ER, 4 H, 1 HB, 1 BB, 0 K.
Austin Post 91:Ethan Horstman 0-for-4, BB; Gabe Kasak 3-for-3, SB, 2 RBI; Marcus Stoulil 0-for-4, R; Nik Gasner 1-for-2, HBP, 2B, 2 R, RBI; Joey Raso 0-for-1, R; Zach Huntley 2-for-2, HBP, BB; Steve Clennon 2-for-4, RBI; Isaac Schumacher 2-for-3, 2B, 2 R, RBI; Jacob Kempen 1-for-3, BB, R, RBI; Luke Mallory 2-for-4, 2 R, RBI. SP: Jordan Lysne 2 1/3 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 2 K. WP:Nik Gasner 4 2/3 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 6 K.