Packers dust off Albert Lea

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 28, 2003

The Austin baseball team is starting to make some noise in the Big 9.

The Packers swept a doubleheader from host Albert Lea Saturday, 10-4 and 5-1 in 10 innings, to run their record to four wins in their last five games.

"Right now, we're fielding well and our pitchers are throwing strikes," said AHS head coach Troy Watkins.

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The Packers jumped all over Albert Lea in Game 1, sprinting out to an early 9-0 lead. Three Tiger errors in the first inning got the rout started.

Kyle Rizzi struck out a season-high 11 batters in his six innings of work, allowing three runs on seven Albert Lea hits. Nate Johnson came in from the outfield to throw an inning of mop-up duty.

Rizzi got it done with the bat as well to lead the Packer offense. He was a home run short of hitting for the cycle, settling for a 3-for-4 day with three RBI's and two runs scored. Davis Lyon also went 2-for-3 at the plate, scoring two runs and driving in another.

"It was important for our team to get out to an early lead and then put (Albert Lea) away," Watkins said. "They may not have a great record but they've played people tough."

Albert Lea didn't let the shellacking they got in the opener keep them from playing Austin tough in the nightcap. Crafty southpaw Brandon Klukow dueled Packer starter Sean Selmicki to a 1-1 stalemate that spilled over into extra innings.

The Tigers were able to squeeze a run out in the first inning when David Villarreal singled, stole a base, and later scored on a sacrifice fly.

Austin was able to tie it up in fourth, but both teams were shackled by fine pitching until the 10th.

With Klutkow finally exiting after nine innings, the Packers were finally able to break through against his replacement, Josh Diaz. He didn't get much help from his shortstop, who committed two errors in allowing Austin to load the bases.

A walk to Andy Swank forced in a run that finally broke the tie. Marcus Ball, fresh off the junior varsity squad to spell Adam Edge behind the plate, added to the damage with a two-run single. Jordan Van Proosdy finished the scoring off with a sacrifice fly to give them an insurmountable 5-1 lead.

"You've got to give him credit for how he pitched today," said Watkins of Selmicki, who got pitched all 10 innings for his first win of the year. He retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced, allowing only nine hits and walking none, while striking out seven on the day.

In addition to Ball's two hits, Swank and Joe Kroc both chipped in a couple of base knocks with an RBI and a run scored.

"This has been a tough stretch for us," said Watkins, "but we still need to beat the teams that we should beat."

At 5-3 in conference play and 5-4 overall, Austin moves into sole possession of second place in the Big 9 by virtue of their 1-0 win over Century earlier in the season. They begin a home-and-home series today with Faribault, with Tuesday's game at Marcusen Park.


Game 1


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Game 2

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