Kasak’s single lifts Packers over first place WinonaPublished 9:20pm Thursday, May 16, 2013
If the Packers could chose one hitter to decide a game for them, it would most likely be senior Gabe Kasak.
Kasak had that chance Thursday and he delivered as he lined a two-out single into left-center field in the bottom of the seventh to give Austin a 3-2 win over Winona in a baseball game in Dick Seltz Field.
Kasak also tripled and scored the tying run on an error in the bottom of the sixth inning, so he was feeling no pressure when Winona (8-4 overall, 8-4 Big Nine) put in relief pitcher Tyler Kaphusman to pitch to him with the game on the line.
“I was relaxed and ready to go,” Kasak said. “I didn’t know that pitcher, but I think after that at-bat I knew him pretty well. He gave me a good eye after that first pitch that I fouled off. I just stared back at him and got the next one.”
Austin had two outs with nobody on when Dylan Gasner singled and Tommy Olmstead walked to set Kasak up.
The Winhawks are currently at the top of the Big Nine Conference standings and they had won their previous five games. Austin had lost both of its extra inning games this season and it has lost four games by one run.
“It was nice to be on the other end of one of those,” Austin head coach Troy Watkins said. “We’ve been on the wrong end of a few of those this year and it was nice for our guys to get the ‘W.’ It was a big game and Winona’s a good team.”
Austin sophomore pitcher Nik Gasner retired the first nine hitters he saw in order, but the Winhawks took advantage of an Austin error to tie the game at 1-1 in the fourth and they took the lead in the fifth when Gasner walked two before allowing a run scoring single to Winona’s Drew Fakler.
“When I was starting to lose it a little bit, I was trying to aim it too much,” Gasner said. “Going into the sixth I was just throwing it, trying to hit the glove and taking my time.”
Gasner allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out three in the win and he is now 5-0 on the year.
“Nik kept us in the game. He threw strikes all night,” Watkins said. “We’ve been riding him a little bit and it was good to see him rewarded with a win.”
Gasner was well aware that Winona is leading the conference, but he wasn’t fazed. Especially after he pitched four scoreless innings in Austin’s season opening 2-1 loss to Winona.
“I’m not really intimidated going against anybody,” Gasner said.
Austin (7-9 overall, 6-8 Big Nine) opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning when Marcus Stoulil grounded out to score a run.
Austin now has wins over three of the top four teams in the Big Nine, which has proven to be a wide open conference. With most of the teams in Section 1AAA being from the Big Nine, the tournament could be wide open as well.
“On any given day if you get a hot pitcher or you’re swinging the bats well, you’ve got a chance to win,” Watkins said. “I don’t see anybody that really stands above everybody else. We’ve had a lot of close games with those top teams and we feel we’re right there with them.”
Winona 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 — 2 2 3
Austin 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 — 3 3 1
Austin pitching: Nik Gasner (W), 7 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 K
Austin hitting: Tommy Olmstead, 0-for-1, 3 BBs, R; Gabe Kasak, 2-for-4, triple, RBI; Gasner, 0-for-2, BB; Ethan Horstmann, 0-for-2, BB; Marcus Stoulil, 0-for-2, RBI; Zach Huntley, 0-for-2; Hunter Gleason, 0-for-3; Isaac Schumacher, 0-for-1, BB; Dylan Gasner, 1-for-4; Jacob Kempen, 0-for-1; Sean Coffey, R
Rocky Hulne is the sports editor of the Austin Daily Herald. Follow him on twitter @RockyHulneADH,