Youngsters boost Hounds to a winPublished 11:56pm Friday, July 27, 2012
The cards were a little stacked against the Austin Greyhounds on Friday night in Marcusen Park.
Austin had just nine players show up and only four of them were regulars in the lineup.
That’s where Austin High School students Zach Huntley and Nik Gasner came in.
As Huntley spent his morning going 3-for-3 in Austin Post 91’s last game of the season and Gasner spent his morning in driver’s education, they didn’t know they’d be spending their night helping the Greyhounds (16-17 overall) beat the Rochester Royals 5-4 in 11 innings to clinch the top seed in their section.
Andy Swank eventually scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch with one out, but the Hounds’ two youngsters were crucial in the win.
“Those young guys stepped up and did a great job,” Swank said. “That was a lot of fun to see and it’s nice to know we have some good players coming up.”
Huntley played second base, went 2-for-5 and knocked in a run in the seventh inning to tie the game at 2-2.
Both players had never started an amateur baseball game before.
“Those guys are tough, but it’s all timing. That’s something I’ve gotten used to. Those bloop hits always work,” Huntley said. “It kind of got to be just like Legion ball. I got into the flow and I actually felt relaxed out here.”
Gasner played shortstop and doubled and scored in the third inning. He made a running, jumping grab in the top of the first and was pretty steady for the rest of the night on defense.
“The first inning was kind of nerve racking, but after your first couple of ground balls and your first at-bat, it’s just a blast to be out there,” Gasner said.
Huntley said he learned plenty while playing with the older Hounds.
“They put us in position and they help us a lot,” he said. “We’re basically here to learn and have fun.”
Both teams had several chances to put up some runs in the late innings. The Royals had a runner on third with no outs in the top of the ninth, but couldn’t score and they had runners on first and second with no outs in the tenth when Swank made a running catch into the left field wall to save a run.
“I had no idea where the wall was and normally the center fielder warns you, but he kind of has a policy where he lets me run into the fence,” Swank said. “I got to it a step before the fence and I hit the soft spot. If you hit the pole it hurts.”
Rochester loaded the bases with two outs, but Weston Hansen forced a fly-out to end the threat.
The Hounds nearly took a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning as Nels Nelson doubled in the tying run, but he was thrown out at home from center field on a single by Joe Huffman.
The Hounds loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Matt Cano grounded out to end the frame.
Royals 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 — 4 11 0
Hounds 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 1 — 5 12 3
Hounds pitching: Joe Huffman, 9 IP, 10 H, 2 BB, 4 R, 2 ER, 11 K, 1 HBP; Weston Hansen, 2 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 0 R
Hounds hitting: Andy Swank, 2-for-3, double, RBI, R, BB, HBP; Nate Johnson, 1-for-4, RBI, BB; Steve Serratore, 2-for-3, R, 3 BBs; Matt Cano, 0-for-5; Nels Nelson, 3-for-4, double, RBI, R, BB; Huffman, 2-for-5, R; Hansen, 0-for-4; Zach Huntley, 2-for-5, RBI; Nik Gasner, 1-for-5, double, R