Baseball: Packers knocked off by PanthersPublished 9:55pm Thursday, May 23, 2013
ROCHESTER — The Packers baseball team had to try and keep their season alive with their ace pitcher sidelined in Rochester Century Thursday and they just couldn’t do it.
No. 10 seeded Austin lost to the No. 7 Panthers (9-11 overall) 11-1 in six innings in the Section 1AAA opening round.
Austin junior pitcher Jacob Kempen took the start in place of Nik Gasner, who was out with a knee injury. Last Saturday Kempen held the Panthers in check in an 8-1 win, but this time around things were different.
“We’ve been resilient all year and I was hoping we would bounce back like we have,” Austin head coach Troy Watkins said. “Kempen shut them down on Saturday, but today the ball found holes out in the field. I give them credit for putting the ball in play.”
Gasner was 5-0 with an ERA of 1.47 this season, but all he could do was watch Thursday after he hurt his knee in Monday’s loss to Northfield.
Austin senior Gabe Kasak said the Packers were hoping to have Gasner on the hill with season on the line.
“Nik’s an up and coming star,” Kasak said. “Right when I heard he broke a bone, I immediately thought about this game. I just wanted to win that first section game and when Nik’s on the mound, everyone thinks we’re going to win.”
While the Panthers rattled off 17 hits in every way possible, the Packers (8-12 overall) couldn’t catch a break. Zach Huntley looked to have a double in the second inning with Ethan Horstmann on first. Huntley drove a fly ball deep to right, but the Panthers tracked it down, caught it and threw to first for a double play.
Things got even worse in the fourth inning when the Packers, who were trailing 4-0, had the bases loaded and Marcus Stoulil crushed a line shot right at the pitcher and it was caught for an out.
“Marcus hit it about as hard as he can into his glove,” Watkins said. “That’s basically the way it went today.”
Austin fell behind 9-0 in the fifth and Century had the bases loaded with two outs, but Kasak wasn’t about to let his high school baseball career end that quickly. Kasak made a diving stop at shortstop and threw home to get an out and extend the game one more frame.
“That shows what kind of player he is,” Watkins said of Kasak. “He has a never give up attitude and it was a fantastic play. We’re really going to miss the seniors and it’s too bad they had to go out this way.”
Kasak said it was tough for a group of seniors that includes Tommy Olmstead, Stoulil, Zach Huntley, Hunter Gleason and Sean Coffey to play their last game together. But they tried to do it on their terms.
“About halfway through the game Tommy (Olmstead) and I talked about going out amd having fun at least and I think we did that,” Kasak said. “That’s the way it’s been all year, a lof of the games we lost we weren’t having fun and we were kind of angry ball players.”
Austin 0 0 0 0 0 1 — 1 5 3
Century 0 3 1 2 3 2 — 11 17 2
Austin pitching: Jacob Kempen (L), 4 IP, 12 H, 2 BB, 8 R, 7 ER; Steven Clennon, 1 2/3 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 3 R, 2 ER
Austin hitting: Tommy Olmstead, 0-for-2, BB; Gabe Kasak, 1-for-3; Marcus Stoulil, 1-for-3; Ethan Horstmann, 1-for-3, R; Zach Huntley, 1-for-3, double; Clennon, 0-for-2, BB; Hunter Gleason, 0-for-2, RBI; Isaac Schumacher, 0-for-3; Dylan Gasner, 1-for-2