Hounds are headed to statePublished 11:02pm Saturday, August 13, 2011
DUNDAS – The Austin Greyhounds’ pitching staff took it to a new level as they survived two elimination games and earned a Class ‘B’ state amateur baseball tournament after beating Duluth 1-0 and topping Prior Lake 6-2 at the Supersection tournament in Dundas Saturday.
Bryan Toov allowed just five hits and no walks in a 10-inning shutout over Duluth and Joe Huffman allowed just two run in eight innings against Prior Lake.
“Our pitching has been outstanding throughout the whole tournament. That’s our strength,” Hounds player/manager Matt Cano said. “We played hard with our backs to the wall and it shows the character of our guys. We’ve got the will to win and we didn’t want to lose.”
It looked like Toov’s effort may have been wasted as the Hounds (27-11 overall) stranded nine runners on base but after Nick Rohne singled and stole second, Dan Swift drove him home with a walk-off hit that sailed just over the Duluth’s left fielder’s outstretched glove.
“They were playing a lot deeper than I thought, because when I hit it, I thought it was over his head for sure,” Swift said. “He almost made the play, but I got enough of it. We needed something and we just hadn’t had timely hitting.”
Toov struck out just four, but he kept the Duluth hitters at bay by mixing his fastball locations. In all, he threw 93 pitches.
“I mostly just threw fast balls and I tried to keep it away from them and have them ground out,” Toov said. “Our defense was ready because they knew it was coming at them.”
It was Toov’s second straight elimination win in a week, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t feeling any nerves.
“You always feel the pressure, but it’s good to get nervous. You get that adrenaline going,” Toov said.
The win over Duluth gave Huffman a chance to get the Hounds to state and he wasn’t going to waste that chance. He didn’t allow a run in the first seven innings until Prior Lake ripped out three straight hits to get on the board in the top of the eighth.
After getting the second out on a groundout, Huffman walked Prior Lake’s cleanup hitter to load the bases. With the tying run on first, Huffman forced a grounder that third baseman Craig Braaten scooped and threw to second just in time to get the out.
“I was trying to throw strikes and in the eighth inning they just hit it,” Huffman said. “That was a great play by Braaten because if that goes through they probably get two runs and it tightens it right up.”
Austin came out swinging against Prior Lake as Braaten and Tyler Leopold had back-to-back two-out run scoring singles in the first. Swift doubled in another run in the fifth.
The Hounds turned a double play in the sixth were Swift had to tag a runner at first due to a high throw. The call was not popular with Prior Lake and they weren’t afraid to tell the umpires about it.
But while they were voicing their opinion, the Hounds were fired up.
“They woke the bear and they kind of woke us up,” Huffman said. “It’s nice when teams chirp like that because it makes us want to go out there and kick there (butts) a little bit more.”
The Hounds opened the sixth inning with four straight hits – including RBI singles by Matt Raso and Joe Kroc to make it 5-0.
The state tournament berth is especially redeeming for the six former Blue Sox who teamed up with the Hounds this summer. Huffman was one of those players and he hasn’t looked back since.
“It was probably the smoothest transition on any team I’ve ever played on. It’s been one goal to win and everybody’s gotten along with each other,” he said.
The eight-team, double-elimination, Class ‘B’ state tournament begins in Hutchinson next week.
Class ‘B’ state amateur baseball tournament: Austin Greyhounds vs. Sauk Rapids in Hutchinson, 5 p.m.
Prior Lake 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 – 2 9 0
Hounds 2 0 0 0 1 2 0 1 X – 6 14 0
Hounds pitching: Joe Huffman (W), 8 IP, 8 H, 2 BB, 2 ER, 3 K; Zach Schara, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 R
Hounds hitting: Andy Swank, 1-for-4, R, BB; Nick Rohne, 1-for-4, RBI, R, HBP; Matt Cano, 2-for-5; Dan Swift, 1-for-3, double, RBI, R, BB; Craig Braaten, 2-for-4, RBI, R; Tyler Leopold, 4-for-4, 2 doubles, RBI, R, SB; Matt Raso, 1-for-4, RBI; Joe Kroc, 1-for-3, RBI; John Frein, 1-for-3, R, BB; Mitch Mullenbach, 0-for-1
Duluth 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 0 5 0
Hounds 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 – 1 11 0
Hounds pitching: Bryan Toov (W), 10 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 K
Hounds hitting: Swank, 0-for-5; Rohne, 1-for-5, R, SB; Cano, 1-for-5; Swift, 2-for-5, RBI; Braaten, 3-for-4, double; Leopold, 0-for-4; Raso, 1-for-3, BB; Kroc, 1-for-3, SB; Frein, 1-for-4; John Kirby, 1-for-1