Greyhounds defend St. Cloud title

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 9, 2003

Scott Meyer may not throw as hard as some pitchers, but he's still tougher than most to hit.

Meyer was named Most Valuable Player as the Austin Greyhounds Class B amateur baseball team won four games in three days to repeat as champions at the St. Cloud Ultimate Sports tournament Friday through Sunday in St. Cloud.

Meyer won twice in the span of three days, including a five-hitter in Sunday night's 4-1 championship victory over O'Hara's of St. Cloud. The Greyhounds rolled their record to 9-4 with their fifth straight win, including four at the weekend event.

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"This was a good tournament for us," said 'Hounds manager John Frein. "We got to play Cold Spring and we beat them, and now there isn't a team we feel we can't beat. We played good team baseball all weekend."

Two years ago it was Cold Spring that topped Austin twice in the finals of the Class B state tournament. The Springers never made it to last season's state finals, where the Greyhounds rocked Chaska for the championship.

Austin native Andy Bulson did not pitch Saturday for third-ranked Cold Spring as he had so many times before against the Greyhounds. Bulson instead threw a complete-game victory over the Hayfield/Austin Athletics, 5-1, in Friday's first round.

The A's lost in Saturday's consolation round to Jackson, 10-1, to be eliminated from the tournament. After winning six of seven to start the season, the A's have lost six of their last seven to even up at 7-7 overall.

The 'Hounds topped Wesley Homes of South St. Paul, 5-2, in Friday's opener, and came up with a 5-3 victory over the Elko Express Saturday afternoon. Meyer won the opener by allowing six hits over seven innings while striking out five. Tate Cummins went all seven on Saturday, allowing six hits as well.

That set the stage for a reunion with Cold Spring, a team that had lost just once previously. Matt Raso took to the mound for the Greyhounds despite nursing a sore arm, and fired off a two-hit shutout in a momentous 3-0 triumph for Austin.

"He pitched an absolute gem," Frein said, "with an arm that was really not that rested. He was sore but he bucked up and got the job done."

Raso pitched 10 innings of relief Tuesday at Jordan but had seven strong frames left for the tournament. It helped to have a 2-0 lead before ever taking the hill as Austin tallied twice in the top of the first. Nick Rohne walked to open the game and Matt Cano drove him home with a double. Tim Kaplan delivered a run-scoring single for the early advantage.

Neither team scored until Austin tallied in the seventh. Jamie Morrison led off with a double, moved up on Grant Lunning's sacrifice bunt, and scored on Frein's sacrifice fly.

"That's what we did all weekend was execute," Frein said. "We played a lot of small ball, did a lot of bunting.

"This was a big win for us. It gave us a lot of confidence. Any time we play now we feel like we can beat anyone."

And they proved it by coming from behind to take the championship game Sunday night. O'Hara's of St. Cloud held a 1-0 lead through four innings before the Greyhounds tied it up in the fifth.

"We were down for a little bit, but we played so relaxed," Frein said. "We felt we were the superior team and it was our game."

And behind Meyer it was. He threw the complete-game five-hitter, allowing O'Hara's only run in the third on a disputed infield single. Meyer struck out five, walked four, and picked up his second victory of the tournament.

"We made all the plays behind him," Frein said. "Scotty shut them down when they had their chances too."

Cummins' two-out single plated Morrison as the tying run in the fifth, and the 'Hounds got more than they bargained for in the ninth. Morrison led off with a double and moved to third on Lunning's bunt that allowed him to reach safely as well. An errant pickoff attempt got Morrison home and Lunning to second before Frein dropped down another sacrifice bunt.

Rohne made it a two-run cushion with a two-out single. Cano walked and Craig Selk, who hit the ball hard throughout the tournament according to Frein, found a hole with his RBI-single.

"We were playing for one but we ended up getting three," Frein said.

The Greyhounds, now 9-4 overall, play a Southern Minny League contest at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night at Austin's Marcusen Park against the Faribault Lakers.

Another tournament has both Austin-area amateur teams slated for competition this weekend. The seventh-ranked Red Wing Aces host their annual tournament Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

The Athletics (7-7), who play Wednesday at Stewartville-Racine, start their tournament run Thursday at 6:15 p.m. against the sixth-ranked Dundas Dukes. The Greyhounds (9-4) follow at 8:15 p.m. against Bay City.