SPAMtown challenge will have 16 teams

Published 11:14 pm Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Marcusen Park will be crowded for the next four days as 16 amateur baseball teams descend upon Austin to decide the winner of the SPAMtown Challenge, which begins tonight with the Austin Blue Sox taking on the Chicago Wildcats at 6:30 p.m. and the Austin Greyhounds taking on the Eagle Valley, Ill. Eagles at 8:30 p.m. Both game will be at Marcusen.

The tourney features a wide variety of teams and any of them could take the tourney — which is set up by the Austin Greyhounds.

“I’ve got nothing but good things to say about the teams coming here,” Greyhounds manager John Frein said. “When it’s all said and done, whoever wins it on Sunday is going to have to be a little bit lucky and whoever wins will have to exhaust their pitching.”

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The tournament is divided into four pools and the pool champions will play each other Sunday to set up the title game, which will be played at 2 p.m. at Marcusen.

There are plenty of tiebreakers if two teams are tied at the top of their pool.

Pool A includes the Austin Greyhounds (2-9), Chaska (16-4), the Eagle Valley, Ill. Eagles, and Brookings, S.D. (14-3 overall).

“I hope we can go 2-1 in this pool but it’s tough. It’d be nice to win it.” Frein said. “Eagle Valley has some former pros and a few Division I college players, Brookings is one of the better teams in South Dakota and Chaska is solid.”

Pool B includes the Austin Blue Sox (6-9), Minnetonka Millers (24-3), the Chicago Wildcats (11-3), and the Prescott Pirates (12-4).

Frein said that Pool B is one of the toughest ones in the tournament as Minnetonka won the SPAMtown Challenge last season.

“Everyone knows about Minnetonka in Minnesota and in some of the other states as well,” Frein said. “Those teams also get a chance to play a team from Chicago, which is a unique opportunity.”

Pool C includes the Cold Spring Springers (22-2), Stillwater Loggers (9-3), Sioux City, Iowa Saints, and Jamestown, N.D. Merchants.

Cold Spring took second in the SPAMtown Challenge last season.

“Jamestown is one of those teams that always comes down and they find the Challenge very enjoyable,” Frein said.

Pool D includes the Rochester Royals (12-4), the Blaine Fusion (8-3), the Sparta Miller (10-10), and the Owatonna Aces.

“Rochester and Blaine will probably duel it out and maybe it’s Blaine’s year to get to the final four,” Frein said.

Some of the games will be played in Dartts Park in Owatonna to help with the Aces schedule.

Frein said the Greyhounds not only focus on playing, but they must also worry about upkeeping the fields and playing a good host to all of the visiting teams.

“It’s a long weekend and it takes a lot out of us, plus we have to play,” Frein said. “That’s why we call it the Challenge.”

Full concessions will be available at Marcusen Park throughout the tourney. There will be a pig roast Saturday. Adult tourney passes are available for $12 and tourney passes for kids 12 and under are $5. The daily tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for kids 12 and under.

SPAMtown Challenge schedule:

Thursday’s games

Austin Blue Sox vs. Chicago Wildcats, 6:30 p.m. at Marcusen

Austin Greyhounds vs. Eagle Valley (Ill.) Eagles, 8:30 p.m. at Marcusen

Friday’s games

Chicago Wildcats vs. Prescott (Wis.) Pirates, 4:30 p.m. at Marcusen

Blaine Fusion vs. Owatonna Aces, 5:30 p.m. at Dartts Park in Owatonna

Brookings (S.D.) Cubs vs. Eagle Valley (Ill.) Eagles, 6 p.m. at Riverland 1

Austin Greyhounds vs. Chaska Cubs, 7 p.m. at Marcusen

Rochester Royals vs. Owatonna Aces, 7:30 p.m. at Dartts Park in Owatonna

Cold Sping Springers vs. Sioux City (Iowa) Saints, 8 p.m. at Riverland 1

Jamestown (N.D.) Merchants vs. Stillwater Loggers, 8 p.m. at Riverland 2

Austin Blue Sox vs. Minnetonka Millers, 9 p.m. at Marcusen

Saturday’s games

Blaine Fusion vs. Sparta (Wis.) Millers, 9 a.m. at Marcusen

Rochester Royals vs. Sparta (Wis.) Millers, 11 a.m. at Marcusen

Sioux City (Iowa) Saints vs. Stillwater Loggers, 1 p.m. at Marcusen

Cold Spring Springers vs. Jamestown (N.D.) Merchants, 3 p.m. at Marcusen

Chaska Cubs vs. Brookings (S.D.) Cubs, 4 p.m. at Riverland 1

Rochester Royals vs. Blaine Fusion, 4 p.m. at Riverland 2

Cold Spring Springers vs. Stillwater Loggers, 5 p.m. at Marcusen

Owatonna Aces vs. Sparta (Wis.) Millers, 5 p.m. at Dartts Park in Owatonna

Minnetonka Millers vs. Prescott (Wis.) Pirates, 6 p.m. at Riverland 1

Chaska Cubs vs. Eagle Valley (Ill.) Eagles, 6 p.m. at Riverland 2

Austin Greyhounds vs. Brookings (S.D.) Cubs, 7:15 p.m. at Marcusen

Minnetonka Millers vs. Chicago Wildcats, 8:30 p.m. at Riverland 1

Jamestown (N.D.) Merchants vs. Sioux City (Iowa) Saints, 8:30 p.m. at Riverland 2

Austin Blue Sox vs. Prescott (Wis.) Pirates, 9:30 p.m. at Marcusen

Sunday’s games

Winner pool B vs. winner pool D, 10 a.m. at Marcusen

Winner pool A vs. winner pool C, noon at Marcusen

Title game, 2 p.m. at Marcusen