Post 91 avoids a trap

Published 9:53 pm Tuesday, July 22, 2008

In the face of adversity, the Austin Post 91 Legion baseball team showed how much it has grown in a 4-3 win over the Rochester Eagles in Marcusen Park Tuesday night.

Austin (10-7 overall, 8-4 District 1) allowed two late runs but survived with a win as pitcher John Kirby got the last three hitters out in order to end the game.

“When you win like this, you feel pretty fortunate. This is the kind of game at the beginning of the year we might have lost,” Austin manager Bob Stratton said. “We told the kids before the game this is a trap game. We played two or three good games in a row and we’re playing a team that’s 2-10, while we play a 10-2 team (Rochester Redhawks) tomorrow night.”

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The Eagles scored in the sixth on an RBI single by Rob Poterach and scored in the seventh when Tom Gores led off the frame with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a throwing error by Austin on a groundout by Rochester.

Kirby, who got off to a good start by retiring the first six batters he faced, was strong throughout the night for Austin as he struck out nine in seven innings, while allowing six hits and two earned runs.

“My defense made some great plays and got me out of some jams,” Kirby said. “It felt real good to get out there and throw strikes right away. I kind of slowed myself down and didn’t move too fast. I was just trying to stay away from the big inning.”

Stratton said Kirby’s success came from a change in focus over his last few starts.

“We’ve been talking to John over the last three starts,” Stratton said. “We’ve basically told him to throw strikes and not worry about throwing it by hitters. He pitched well and kept the ball down.”

While it led the whole game, Post 91 scored its fourth run in the fifth inning when Dylan Monson looped a two-out run-scoring base hit into right-center field. The run put Austin up 4-1.

“I think his curve ball was his best pitch, so I thought that’s what he’d becoming with,” Monson said.

Monson also said it was tough to focus against Rochester pitcher Henry Rowud — who walked eight — because the ball wasn’t always in the strike zone.

“It kind of gets you out of rhythm and you gotta watch out for (where the ball is),” he said.

Post 91, which has now won five straight, missed a chance to blow the game open in the first inning when Rowud walked three batters in a row with one out before hitting Steven Rizzi to plate a run for Austin. John Kirby hit a sacrifice fly, but Sam Stier was thrown out home as he tried to score from second on the fly ball. Stier was sent because Rochester’s center fielder Tim Hendrickson bobbled the ball before throwing it in.

“That was a good percentage play. He got a good lead and the guy was kind of nonchalant,” Stratton said. “The only way he gets him is to make a perfect throw. We were forcing them to make a play.”

Post 91 left the bases loaded in the third inning when Jake Winters struck out and Monson lined out to end the frame.

But the most frustrating mistakes by Austin came at first base. Two Austin runners were picked off at first base and both times it was costly.

“There’s no excuse for that,” Stratton said. “The counts were 3-0 both times and we basically fell asleep. But we’ve got to dwell on the positives. We played good and we only had one error.”

Austin will now focus on a busy week which has them hosting the Rochester Redhawks in a doubleheader Wednesday at 5 p.m. The team also hosts Owatonna Thursday at 5 p.m. and will travel to play the Rochester A’s Saturday at 11 a.m.

“We’ve got some tough games ahead,” Kirby said. “All three of those teams were in the final four in the high school season.”

Austin 4, Eagles 3

Austin pitching: John Kirby (W), 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 9 K

Austin hitting: Andrew Orcutt, 0-for-2, HBP; Mark Harber, 2-for-3, RBI, R, BB; Duell Higbe, 0-for-2, R, BB; Sam Stier, 0-for-2, 2 BBs; Steven Rizzi, 1-for-3, double, RBI; John Kirby, 1-for-2, RBI, BB; Jake Winters, 0-for-1, 2 BBs; Dylan Monson, 1-for-2, RBI, BB; Nick Grage, 1-for-3, double, R; Brady Klingfus, 0-for-1, R; Adam Hemann, 0-for-1

Eagles pitching: Henry Rowud, 6 IP, 6 H, 8 BB, 4 ER, 5 K, 2 HBP

Eagles hitting: Andy Verdick, 1-for-3, RBI; Mike Glasenapp, 1-for-3, double; Todd Bertgen, 0-for-3; Rob Poterach, 1-for-3, RBI; Derek Schoeberl, 1-for-3; Tom Gores, 1-for-3; Henry Rowud, 1-for-3; Tim Hendrickson, 0-for-3; Dan Hudson, 0-for-1; Eric Bienick, 0-for-2