Merchants slip into sixth seed, A#039;s fourth
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 16, 2002
Everybody makes the playoffs, but had the Austin Merchants won Monday night against Kasson then only one Austin-based amateur baseball team would have a chance to make it to the second round.
The Class C Merchants, Austin's first-year amateur team, fell 9-6 to the Kasson Coyotes Monday night at Marcusen Park. The Merchants dropped to the sixth-seed entering the Twin Rivers League Zumbro Division playoffs, which begin Wednesday. Austin will play at third-seed Dodge Center Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., while the Hayfield/Austin Athletics (10-18, 9-11) -- the second-year Class C team -- host Kasson Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
Had the Merchants defeated Kasson, one Austin squad would have eliminated the other in the opening round.
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"We wouldn't want to have to play the A's in the first round and then have only one Austin team make it to the next round," said Clint Ripley, the Merchants' only selection for tonight's Twin Rivers League All-Star Game. Ripley flashed some leather at shortstop Monday night as a makeshift lineup came together behind starting pitcher Jeff Kvam.
Kvam, an everyday outfielder, threw four innings in the loss, while Brandon Schuck completed the final five innings in relief. Both allowed only two earned runs.
Paul Anderson pitched three hitless innings of relief for the win as Kasson moved out of the basement of the division standings for the first time this season. Austin (7-13, 7-12) ended the regular season on a four-game losing streak.
Kasson starting pitcher Tom Jeznach scored what proved to be the game-winning run after his two-run double in the seventh gave the Coyotes a 6-1 lead. A throwing error allowed Jeznach to score, capping Kasson's three-run inning.
The Merchants bounced back with three runs in the bottom of the seventh, highlighted by Schuck's RBI-single and a two-base error on the left fielder. Brian Parlin, Josh Kunze and Clint Ripley struck together consecutive singles, and Schuck's hit chased Jeznach from the hill.
Anderson allowed two unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth as a pair of throwing errors allowed Kvam and Parlin to score. Two unearned runs for Kasson in the top of the ninth opened the 7-6 edge to three.
Kunze, Ripley and Schuck led the Merchants' 11-hit attack with two apiece. Schuck and Kvam were the only Austin players credited with RBIs as four of their six runs were unearned to Kasson pitching.
Tom Jeznach, Paul Anderson (7) and Kory McDermott; Jeff Kvam, Brandon Schuck (5) and Josh Kunze. WP -- Jeznach. LP -- Kvam. 2B -- K: Jeznach 2, Nelson.