A#039;s win fight for local bragging rights

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 28, 2002

The fight for bragging rights between two Austin-based Class C Amateur Baseball teams was a draw for six innings, but this battle did not go the distance.

The eldest of the teams -- the two-year old Hayfield/Austin Athletics -- erupted for six runs in the bottom of the seventh inning and brought to a halt the Austin Merchants' chance of an upset. The A's added two more runs in the eight to end the game courtesy of the 10-run mercy rule, 11-1.

"This was a good game for us, it's about time we had some productivity," said Hayfield/Austin player/coach Troy Holtz. "But a lot of our productivity was based on their errors."

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The Athletics (7-11, 5-6) moved into a tie with the surging Merchants (5-7, 5-6) near the top of the Twin Rivers League's Zumbro Division. The Merchants, amidst the club's premiere campaign, had won three of their last four games before Wednesday's loss to their elders.

"We came ready, everybody was pretty juiced about playing these guys," said Merchants catcher Josh Kunze. "We just gave them too many free bases."

Merchants starting pitcher Mike Haugen -- ironically a Hayfield native -- walked seven and hit four batters in 7 1/3 innings. The A's took a 3-0 lead on their first hit of the game -- Eric Schmeling's RBI-triple to right-center field in the bottom of the fourth.

Of Hayfield/Austin's 11 runs, eight of the baserunners reached with either a walk, an error, or a hit-by-pitch. The Merchants committed five errors in the loss -- four of which were in the Athletics' six-run seventh.

Hayfield native Jon Severson struck out eight and allowed one run over seven innings for the win. Severson allowed only four hits and two walks.

"I didn't lose any sleep over it, but I wanted to win just as much as any other game," Severson said. "We were kind of the favorite, and we knew they really wanted to beat us so we had to bring our 'A' game.

"With all these teams in the league it's starting to get a lot more competitive."

The game was the first between two Austin-based Class C teams since 1961. The rematch will be in two weeks -- Wednesday, July 10 at Marcusen Park.

"They're a good team, and I still believe they're playing far above their potential," said Holtz, who helps coach the Merchants on off days for the A's. "(Having a third team) gives a lot more guys a chance to play, and most guys are getting that chance to play and making the most of it. We've played a lot of nine-guy games, so there's some guys who are really stepping up to play every game."

Severson sharp

Severson, who only pitched 12 innings for the University of Wisconsin-Stout during the spring, threw 97 pitches in his second seven-inning outing of the summer season. Matt Juncker allowed one hit and struck out one in his inning of relief.

Two of the Merchants' five hits were triples, including Clint Ripley's one-out shot in the top of the sixth. Former Austin High teammate Nick Bowe brought him in with a suicide squeeze bunt on a fastball above his head.

The Merchants' only run cut into the Athletics' early 3-0 lead, but one inning later Hayfield/Austin emerged as the leader of the Class C teams. Schmeling, who was 2-4 hitting, was plunked by Haugen leading off the seventh. Justin Oakland reached safely on a throwing error by Haugen on his sacrifice bunt, allowing Schmeling to race all the way around to score. After Jamie Beck was hit by a pitch, Oakland was caught straying from third on Beck's stolen base.

Lee Aadahl walked and Holtz reached on an error before Matt Juncker chased Haugen from the hill with a run-scoring single to left. Jamie Pratt welcomed reliever Brian Parlin with an RBI-single, and Al Dahlen drove in another with a single down the left-field line.

Juncker ended the game in the bottom of the eighth with a two-run double, plating Aadahl and Adam Schroeder. Schroeder, a Byron High School senior-to-be, singled in his only plate-appearance.

The game on paper

The match was anticipated to be as close as it was for the first six-and-a-half innings. The Merchants were fresh off a 15-8 beating of St. Charles Tuesday night -- the same St. Charles team that handed the Athletics two of their six league losses in a doubleheader June 9.

The Merchants hope to rebound with revenge against host Dodge Center Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The Dodgers and pitcher Owen Hoegh no-hit Austin in their last meeting June 17. The Merchants are at home on Monday for a rematch with Zumbro Division frontrunner Stewartville-Racine at 6 p.m. Austin downed the Sharks 9-6 in 12 innings in Stewartville in their first pairing.

The Hayfield/Austin A's play host to the Rochester Blues Friday at 7:30 p.m. before entertaining Pine Island in a league doubleheader Sunday starting at 1 p.m. The Athletics also play at home Monday against Kasson immediately following the Merchants' match with Stewartville-Racine.




Haugen, Parlin (8) and Kunze; Severson, Juncker (8) and Juncker, Aadahl (8). WP--Severson. LP--Haugen. 2B--Juncker. 3B--Ripley, Johnson, Schmeling.

Call Ross Thede at 434-2234 or e-mail him at :mailto:sports@austindailyherald.com.