Blue Sox topple Greyhounds

Published 11:51 pm Thursday, July 30, 2009

With the No. seed locked up and nothing but pride to play for, the Austin Blue Sox still came through with a 5-3 win over the Austin Greyhounds in the final Section 2B game of the season Thursday at Marcusen Park.

The Hounds stranded five runners in scoring position in the last four innings as Austin reliever Nels Nelson struck out seven in six innings of work to get the win.

The Hounds started the bottom of the ninth with a single by Nick Rohne with the heart of the order coming up. Craig Braaten popped out on a 3-1 pitch on a diving catch by Blue Sox catcher Derek Emanuel, Matt Cano popped out to Nelson, and Raso flew out to end the game.

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Nelson said it felt good to retire Braaten and Cano.

“They’ve gotten me in the past quite a bit. I guess it was just my time to get them,” he said.

In the fifth, after Cano singled to put runners on first and second with no outs, Nelson responded by getting two strikeouts and fly-out. In the sixth, the Hounds had runners on first and second with one out and Nelson forced a ground-out and fly-out.

“We had opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on. Sometimes that just happens, and unfortunately it happened to us tonight,” Cano said. “Our season has been kind of building up to where we are right now. I really don’t care what seed we are, we’re ready.”

The Hounds will play the Rochester Royals Sunday, Aug. 8 in the first round of the playoffs. A coin toss will determine where that game will played as the Royals had the same section record as the Hounds.

After the Hounds (13-15 overall, 1-3 Section 2B) jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two innings, the Blue Sox scored two runs in the fourth off a solo home run by Dan Swift and a sacrifice fly by Brandon Rector, which scored Brian Voigt, who had doubled.

In the fifth, the Blue Sox took the lead for good when Swift grounded out to score Joe Kroc, who had doubled, and Voigt hit a two-out triple to deep center and scored on a single by Josh Kunze.

“I guessed changeup and (Hounds pitcher John Kirby) left it out over the plate,” Voigt said. “I got the barrel on the ball and drove it.”

Kunze got his hit, which came off reliever John Halverson, by going with the pitch to right field.

“I try to be a tough out up there,” he said. “I knew they were pitching me away with the off-speed stuff. I was fooled a little with my front foot out there a little bit, so I just guided it out there.”

The Hounds scored two in the first when Braaten tripled in a run and scored on a sacrifice fly by Cano and they scored in the second on a two out single by Joey Swatfager to score Nick Bowe.

The Blue Sox (19-5 overall, 4-0 Section 2B) added an insurance run in the eighth when Mark Harber hit a sacrifice fly to score Winston Smith, who went two-for-three and played solid at second base.

“Winston’s been real key the last couple of weeks,” Kunze said. “He’s played left field and he’s real tough at second base. He’s been a great utility player for us and he brings a good approach to the plate. He’s a hard out.”

Kunze likened the Blue Sox’s 4-0 Section 2B record to 2007, when they took second at the state tournament.

“Hopefully this is deja vu for us,” he said. “That was our goal was to win all of our section games. So far mission accomplished, but we’ve still got a ways to go.”

Nelson has given the Blue Sox some quality innings this year after throwing in just three games last year.

“The elbow’s staying strong and I don’t think I’m losing any velocity. It definitely gives you confidence to pitch well against a team like the Greyhounds,” he said.

The Blue Sox will host the winner of the Hounds and Royals Aug. 12.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E

Blue Sox 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 1 0 5 9 1

Hounds 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 9 1

Blue Sox pitching: Ryan Palmer, 3 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 ER, 2 HBP, 3 K; Nels Nelson (W), 6 IP, 4 H, 7 K

Blue Sox hitting: Aaron Port, 0-for-5; Joe Kroc, 2-for-4, double, R, SB, BB; Nate Johnson, 0-for-4, BB; Dan Swift, 1-for-5, HR, 2 RBIs, R; Brian Voigt, 2-for-4, double, triple, 2 R; Josh Kunze, 2-for-3, RBI; Winston Smith, 2-for-3, SB; Brandon Rector, 0-for-3, RBI, SB; Derek Emanuel, 0-for-2, BB; Mark Harber, 0-for-1, RBI; Brady Klingfus, 0-for-1

Hounds pitching: John Kirby (L), 4 2/3 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 ER, 2 HBP, 3 K; John Halverson, 3 1/3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 7 K; Dave Meyer, 1 IP, 1 BB, 0 R, 1 K

Hounds hitting: Joey Swatfager, 1-for-3, RBI, R, SB, 2 BBs; Nick Rohne, 1-for-5, SB; Criag Braaten, 2-for-5, triple, RBI, SB; Matt Cano, 1-for-5, RBI, SB; Matt Raso, 1-for-3, 2 BBs; Tyler Leopold, 0-for-4; Dave Meyer, 1-for-4; Nick Bowe, 1-for-2, double, R; John Frein, 1-for-2, SB; Robert Wahlert, SB; Joe Ciola, 0-for-1