The Austin Packers baseball team was looking to keep its 2021 season alive in Red Wing Thursday night in the Section 1AAA elimination bracket quarterfinals, but it was a four-run bottom of the second inning for the Wingers that proved to be just a bit too much for the Packers to overcome as Red Wing held on for a 5-4 win.
The Wingers struck first in the bottom of the first inning when then-pitcher Drew Ball knocked in leadoff hitter Cooper Chandler with a RBI single to make the score 1-0, but Austin came back in the top of the second when Jordan Ransom led off the inning with a walk, he later went to second on a comebacker to Ball and scored when designated hitter Blake Smith looped a double down the right field line to tie the game at one. Red Wing would rally, though, in the bottom of the inning as they parlayed a bases-loaded walk and a three RBI double from Ball to score four runs with two outs and took a 5-1 lead.
Austin started chipping away in the top of the third when, with two out, Bray Klapperick singled, Dakota Retterath and Jordan Ransom walked and Jared Lillemon dropped a bloop single into shallow left-center to cut the Wingers lead to 5-3. The Packers were at it again in the fourth when leadoff hitter Blake Smith singled, went to second on a single from Lathan Wilson and later scored on a wild pitch to cut Red Wing’s lead to 5-4. The Wingers, though, took back the momentum when Deso Buck came on in relief of Ball with runners at second and third with one out. Buck struck out the first batter he faced for the second out, then walked the next hitter to load the bases before earning another strikeout to end the Austin threat. The Packers had runners at first and second with two out in the top of the sixth, but lefthander Cooper Chandler came on in relief of Buck and got a groundout to short to end the threat. Austin then had runners at first and second with one out in the seventh, but the lead runner was run off second on a wild pitch and was tagged out in a rundown between second and third. Chandler then picked up his second strikeout to clinch the win for Red Wing.
Freshman Peyton Ransom pitched the first four innings for Austin and gave up four runs, all earned on two hits, striking out one, walking two and hitting a batter. Senior Ian Bundy came on in relief in the second inning and pitched the rest of the way for the Packers, going 4 2/3rds and giving up one run, which was earned on three hits, striking out one, walking one and hitting a batter in taking the loss. Deso Buck was credited with the win for Red Wing, as he pitched 2 1/3 innings and did not give up a run or a hit, striking out three and walking four.
With the loss, Austin’s season ends with a record of 6-12, while Red Wing now stands at 8-14 after winning two in a row after a nine-game losing streak. The Wingers will play host to the rest of the 1AAA tournament as they will play Jordan in the elimination bracket semi-finals at 1:30 p.m., as the Hubmen blanked Winona in a pitchers’ duel in Jordan Thursday night 1-0. The winner of that game will be right back into action at 4:00 p.m. against the loser of the first game between top-seeded Byron and third-seeded Albert Lea, as those two teams will play in the winner’s bracket final at 11:00 a.m.