Hounds are ‘pumped’ for state tournament

Published 9:28pm Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Austin Greyhounds can’t wait for Saturday.

After a regular season that was built around getting to the Class ‘B’ state tournament, the Hounds will finally get their chance at state when they open up with Sauk Rapids in Hutchinson Saturday at 5 p.m.

“We just want to get it going,” Austin player/manager John Frein said. “This is why we play. All year we think about this weekend.”

Sauk Rapids beat the Hounds 6-0 earlier this season in the Cold Spring tournament, but that was under much different circumstances then what will be on the line this weekend. With a win, the Hounds would reach the final four of the eight-team double elimination tournament.

But Frein knows the game will not come easy.

“They’re highly regarded as one of the better teams in the state. They’ve got good pitching and good hitting,” he said. “It’s going to be two titans clashing and we’re just pumped to play.”

As the Hounds (27-11 overall) prepare for state, they know that the mound will be well covered. Austin’s trio of Joe Huffman, Bryan Toov and Nels Nelson combined to allow just four earned runs in 27 innings of work in the Supersection tournament this past weekend.

In the Section 2B tournament, the trio allowed six earned runs to Marshall in 27 innings of work.

Toov has allowed just one earned run in his last 19 innings on the hill.

“We could flip a three-headed coin to see who will pitch Saturday because they’ve all done well,” Frein said. “They’re programmed and wired to get it done, and they just shut out any pain or soreness they might feel.”

Offensively, the Hounds struggled to find their offense at the supersections until they got it going in the state qualifying win over Prior Lake. Frein hopes the bats come alive early and often this weekend.

“We still feel we can peak and we haven’t peaked yet,” he said. “Every single hitter in our lineup can hit and if guys start getting hot, who knows what can happen?”

This is the first time Austin has had a team reach the final eight in three years, but most of the Hounds have plenty of state tournament experience.

“We’re representing the town of Austin and guys have been there before and know what it’s all about,” Frein said. “It’s kind of an addiction and we’re happy to be where we are. But we want more.”

If the Hounds beat Sauk Rapids, they will play Sunday at 7:30 p.m. in Browntown. If they lose their first game, they will play Sunday at 5 p.m. in Browntown.

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