What a relief

Published 1:50 pm Monday, May 12, 2008

The Packers baseball team got some big relief performances in a 12-6 win over Mankato East at Dick Seltz Field Saturday.

With Mankato East (3-12 overall) leading 6-5 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Austin’s backup catcher Jake Winters hit a one-out, two-run double deep into left field to give the Packers (5-9 overall, 4-9 Big Nine) the lead for good. The hit triggered a five-run rally for the Packers that put the game away.

“I just saw the ball real well and I just turned on it,” Winters, a junior, said. “I wasn’t feeling any pressure. I just like to go out there and have fun.”

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On the mound, Austin starter Mark Harber lasted three and one-thirds innings after allowing eight hits and five runs before being relieved by John Kirby, who got the win.

“Mark’s pitch count was up there a little and they were on him and making pretty good contact. We knew we were gonna throw two guys today anyway,” Austin head coach Troy Watkins said. “John did a nice job of coming in and putting out the fire.”

Kirby allowed just one hit in the fifth inning, but a couple of wild pitches allowed Mankato East to take the lead on him.

“I tried to slow down my windup,” Kirby said. “I was moving too fast and trying to throw way too hard.”

Kirby recovered and allowed just one walk the rest of the way.

As for Winters, his day got a lot better in the sixth inning, when he belted a two-run homer over the left field fence in the bottom of the sixth inning. It was Austin’s first homer at Dick Seltz field this season.

“It felt pretty good,” Winters said. “It was a great experience. I kind of feel like I have to prove myself; that I’m supposed to be out there every time I’m at the plate.”

The Packers amassed 11 hits and drew five walks in the win.

“Much better plate discipline after the first couple of innings,” Watkins said. “Hopefully we continue to learn and swing at good pitches. I saw some guys swing the bat well today.”

Facing Mankato East’s pitching was a little easier for the Packers than it was on Thursday, when they had just seven hits in two games against Century.

“It was a big change in speed,” said Kirby, who was 1-of-4 with an RBI. “It was way slower than Century.”

Mankato East jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second, before Austin scored four runs in the third off of a sacrifice fly by Mark Harber, who had 4 RBIs, an RBI single by Adam Hemann, and an RBI-single by Connor Surdy.

Austin pitching: Mark Harber, 3 2/3 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 K; John Kirby (W), 3 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, 3 K

Austin hitting: John Kirby, 1-of-4, RBI; Steven Rizzi, 1-of-2, 3 BBs; Mark Harber, 1-of-2, double, 4 RBIs; Nate Wagner, 0-of-3; Adam Hemann, 1-of-4, RBI; Adam Orcutt, 1-of-2, BB; Connor Surdy, 2-of-3, triple, RBI; Brady Klingfus, 0-of-2; Jake Schmit, 2-of-2, 2 HBP; Jake Winters, 2-of-2, HR, double, 4 RBIs; Jeremy Srock, 0-of-1

Mankato East pitching: Derek Quame, 4 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 5 R, 4 ER, 4 K; Ryan Totman, 1 1/3 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 7 ER, 2 HBP, 1 K; Zach Woodside, 1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K

Mankato East hitting: Dan Larsen, 3-of-4, 2 doubles, RBI; Andrew Bornholdt, 1-of-2, RBI, BB; Ryan Totman, 1-of-2, RBI, 2 BBs; Derek Werkmeister, 1-of-3, RBI; Mitch Kleist, 0-of-3; Derek Quame, 1-of-3, double; Drew Schumacher, 1-of-4; Lance Oachs, 1-of-3; Zach Woodside, 0-of-3