The Austin Greyhounds amatuer baseball team played host to the Stewartville/Racine Sharks in a Twin Rivers League matchup at Marcusen Park Wednesday evening, and in their regular-season home finale, the Hounds staked starting pitcher Cam Madsen to an 8-1 lead on their way to a 17-7, 8-inning win.
Stewartville/Racine took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI double from first baseman Jade Boettcher, but Austin came back in the bottom half of the inning to take the lead for good, it would turn out, at 4-1 when leadoff hitter Alex Ciola, who made a diving catch in left-center field to keep the Sharks from scoring more runs in the top half of the inning led off with a single. Third baseman Jordan Hart then belted an RBI double to right center to tie the game at one, and right fielder Sam Nelsen then reached on an error, which scored Hart to put the Hounds ahead, 2-1. First baseman Mark Harber then followed two batters later with an RBI single, and an RBI groundout from second baseman Dan Bollingberg gave the Hounds a 4-1 lead at the end of one inning.
Austin then opened up an 8-1 lead in the bottom of the second when, with one out, Alex Ciola doubled, and with two men out, designated hitter Dan Swift belted an RBI single to center to score Ciola to make the score 5-1. The Greyhounds wound up loading the bases, and Harber then provided maybe the biggest hit of the game, a two-out, three-RBI double to deep right center that gave the Hounds an 8-1 lead. Stewartville/Racine proved that they would not go quietly, though, as after a scoreless third inning, the Sharks plated three runs in the top of the fourth when catcher Connor Nelson singled and scored a batter later when designated hitter Riley Eickhoff doubled to make the score 8-2. Centerfielder Trent Dahnert later reached on an infield single and wound up scoring on a steal of home when leftfielder Tyler Nelson, who singled to score Eickhoff intentionally put himself in a rundown between first and second to make the score 8-4 Austin heading into the bottom of the fourth.
The Stewartville/Racine comeback continued in top of the fifth when a run scored on a wild pitch to cut the Greyhounds lead to 8-5, but Austin came back in the bottom half of the inning when Mark Harber singled for his third hit of the game. Dan Bollingberg then followed with a double, and pinch-hitter Riley Retterath lofted a sacrifice fly to the outfield to score Harber to make the score 9-5. Alex Ciola then singled with two outs, and he later scored on a wild pitch to give the Hounds a 10-5 lead after five innings.
The Sharks continued to battle as they plated a pair of runs in the top of the sixth to cut the Austin lead to 10-7, but the Greyhounds had the last answer as they pushed four runs across in the bottom of the seventh to make the score 14-7. The inning started when shortstop Tony Ciola drew a walk, and with one out, a single by Alex Ciola and a walk to Jordan Hart loaded the bases. Sam Nelsen then followed with a two-RBI single to give the Hounds a 12-7 lead, and Dan Swift then drew a walk to reload the bases. A sacrifice fly off the bat of catcher Nestor Jiminez gave Austin a 13-7 lead, and Nelsen then scored on a wild pitch to make the score 14-7 Greyhounds at the end of seven innings.
After relief pitcher Zach Bollingberg retired Stewartville/Racine 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth, Austin ended the game via the 10-run rule when Tony Ciola led off the inning with a single. Pinch-hitter Eric Torres then reached on an error, and both runners moved ahead on a passed ball. With two outs, leftfielder Isaac Schumacher belted an RBI double to make the score 15-7, and a bases loaded walk to pinch hitter Jack Dankert, followed by a RBI single from Jiminez accounted for the 17-7 final.
Cam Madsen was credited with the win on the mound for Austin as he pitched the first 5 and 1/3rds of an inning and gave up the seven Stewartville/Racine runs, five of them earned, on 11 hits, striking out six and walking one. Zach Bollingberg then came in and shut the door the rest of the way for the Greyhounds as he threw the last 3 and 2/3rds of an inning and did not give up a run on one hit, striking out one and walking none.
With the win, the Greyhounds are now 11-5 on the season, and Austin will wind up the regular season with a Twin Rivers League matchup with the Pine Island Pioneers in Pine Island Friday night, with first pitch at 7:30 p.m. The Twin Rivers League playoffs will then get underway for Austin next Wednesday, with a site and time yet to be determined.